NRL to hold Pacific Leadership camp

NRL All Stars captain Benji Marshall, Petero Civoniceva, Manu Vatuvei, Michael Jennings and Roy Asotasi will be among Pacific players from across the game to take part in a ground-breaking Rugby League leadership camp in Sydney that is the first of its kind to be held in Australian elite sport.

With almost 30 per cent of players in the NRL of Pacific heritage, the 2012 NRL Pacific Studies Cultural Leadership Camp, starting on Friday (January 20), is being held to further develop specifically targeted senior and up-and-coming NRL players of Pacific heritage as leaders in their respective clubs and communities. 

Fifty players and staff from all 16 NRL clubs will participate in the inaugural three-day camp (Jan 20-22), being held in partnership with the Canberra-based Australian National University (ANU) and conducted at the Sydney University Village.

NRL Chief Executive Mr David Gallop said that players will be encouraged to talk to club officials about ways they can contribute to building and strengthening existing club culture and systems.

“We hope that this camp brings together those who are already in leadership roles and inspires others to do the same,” Mr Gallop said.

“It is a great initiative of our Education and Welfare team to run a program like this for the first time in Australian sport; and the players and clubs have embraced it.”

The NRL Pacific Council, and in particular ex-NRL player Nigel Vagana in his current role  as NRL Education and Welfare Officer,  have been working with ANU over the past three years to package content and create a series of cultural leadership tools for NRL players of Pacific heritage.

Sessions will focus on Pacific Culture and Identity, Society and Leadership, Literature and Visual Arts, Food and Health, and Spirituality and will be delivered by the ANU Pacific Studies program.

Broncos veteran Petero Civoniceva will also deliver a talk on the importance of cultural education and leadership to the group, including Lote Tuqiri and Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Tony Williams (Sea Eagles); Issac Luke (Rabbitohs); Wes Naiqama (Knights); and Frank Pritchard (Bulldogs).

“Many of our younger guys in Rugby League have fantastic potential to make a difference in their community and undertake leadership roles both on and off the field,” Civoniceva said.

“This camp is a chance for us to look at the challenges and opportunities that exist in the game for Pacific Islander players and to take some time to reconnect with our culture.”

ANU offers the only Pacific Studies major in Australia, and also runs ‘Pasifika Australia’, a community and youth outreach program which aims to foster aspirations for higher education amongst Pacific Islander and Maori communities.

“The Australian National University is excited to be working with the NRL on the Pacific Studies Leadership Camp,” said Professor Kent Anderson, Director, School of Culture, History and Language at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

“This combines two of Australia’s world leading institutions in an innovative way.  We at ANU are deeply committed to understanding and engaging with the Pacific and the Pacific Islander community in Australia. 

“We value the knowledge and experience the Pacific Islanders bring to our understanding of the world, and sport and physical culture is part of that."

Five ANU Pacific Studies specialists will deliver sessions throughout the camp including Dr Katerina Teaiwa (Team Leader and Pacific Studies Specialist), Dr Roannie Ng Shiu (Health and Evaluation Specialist), Julia Gray (Performing and Visual Arts Specialist) and Reverend Latu Latai and Nikki Mariner (Evaluation Support).

Players attending the 2012 NRL Pacific Studies Cultural Leadership Camp:

Player

Club

Pacific Heritage

Petero Civoniceva

Broncos

Fijian

Alex Glenn

Broncos

Maori/ Cook islander

Dene Halatau

Bulldogs

Niuean

Frank Pritchard

Bulldogs

Samoan

James Tamou

Cowboys

Maori

Antonio Winterstein

Cowboys

Samoan

Leeson Ah-mau

Dragons

Samoan

Atelea Vea

Dragons

Tongan

Jacob Loko

Eels

Tongan

Reni Matua

Eels

Samoan

Evarn Tuimavave

Knights

Samoan

Wes Naiqama

Knights

Fijian

Peter Matautia

Knights

Samoan

Michael Jennings

Panthers

Tongan

Nafe Seluini

Panthers

Tongan

Roy Asotasi

Rabbitohs

Samoan

Issac Luke

Rabbitohs

Maori

Bronson Harrison

Raiders

Maori

Sam Perrett

Roosters

Maori

Joe Galuvao

Sea Eagles

Samoan

Tony Williams

Sea Eagles

Tongan

Anthony Tupou

Sharks

Tongan

TBC - Jeremy Smith

Sharks

Samoan/ Maori

Mark Taufua

Sharks

Samoan

Sika Manu

Storm

Tongan

Kevin Proctor

Storm

Maori

Benji Marshall

Wests Tigers

Maori

Lote Tuqiri

Wests Tigers

Fijian

Adam Blair

Wests Tigers

Maori

David Mead

Titans

Papua New Guinean

Bodene Thompson

Titans

Maori

Dominique Peyroux

Titans

Cook Islander/Tahitian/Samoan/ Solomon Islander

Manu Vatuvei

Warriors

Tongan

Jerome Ropati

Warriors

Samoan