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More than 500 girls and boys will participate in Harmony Celebration Clinics at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney’s west tomorrow as Rugby League kicks off 10 days of activities celebrating its cultural diversity.

In keeping with the National Harmony Day theme “Sport - Play, Engage, Inspire”, Rugby League activities will include Indigenous, Greek and Irish dancing and Calypso and West African drumming bands as part of pre-game NRL match entertainment this weekend and a Harmony Gala Day at Bass Hill next week for more than 100 children, including Sudanese and African refugees.

Australian Rugby League Commission Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said Rugby League was very supportive of the Australian Government’s Harmony Day initiative on Wednesday week, March 21, to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity, community participation, inclusiveness and respect.

“Harmony Day represents the same values that are important to our game,” said Mr Gallop.

“Cultural diversity in Rugby League extends from our players to our fans and we have a number of great initiatives and programs at all levels of our games that promote community participation and inclusiveness for all Australians.”

Rugby League is at the forefront of Australian sport with programs such as the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars which has raised more than $4.5million over the past three years for inclusive community programs and initiatives, with a particular focus on Indigenous programs and outcomes that directly respond to identified community-need.

Prior to the 2012 season kicking off, NRL players and Rugby League Ambassadors also delivered health and literacy messages to more than 115,000 children across Australia and New Zealand in 24 days as part of the game’s annual Community Carnival.

The NRL also ran a ground-breaking Pacific Studies Cultural Leadership Camp in January to further develop senior and up-and-coming NRL players of Pacific heritage as leaders in their respective clubs and communities. Pacific players represent almost 30 per cent of the NRL player roster.

Other ground-breaking initiatives include the NSW Rugby League’s Multicultural Program to assist and promote integration and social inclusion of newly arrived migrants and young refugees and their families into schools and communities.

Next month a Harmony 9s (nine-a-side) Rugby League carnival will be held at Redfern Oval involving Maori, Indigenous, Mediterranean, Samoan, Tongan and African teams.

Following is a summary of Rugby league’s 2012 Harmony Day activities over the next 10 days:

March 14

Harmony Celebration Clinics
200 Yrs 3 and 4 boys and girls from St George and Canterbury

200 Yrs 3 and 4 boys and girls from Balmain/ Lane Cove

4-6pm Come and Try clinic - primary students.

Leichhhardt Oval

March 17

Cowboys v Eels, 6.30pm kick-off (QLD time)
Entertainment includes a Brazilian Capoeira School who will perform a cultural routine; a contemporary Indigenous dance routine by Shalom College; a roaming West African drumming band, “Wassa”.
The players will wear orange socks.

Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville

March 18

Roosters v Raiders, 2pm kick-off
Irish dancers and a skipping dance troop performing; Greek community dancers; activities around the ground including tropical fruit Carver dressed in orange, carving shapes out of fruit; Calypso band; face painting.

Allianz Stadium
(Formerly SFS)

March 21

Panthers Harmony Day
The Panthers will hold a street fair/BBQ for Panthers on the Prowl children with NRL players and staff.

Centrebet Stadium,

March 23

Harmony Gala Day, 10-2pm
Hazem El Masri joins more than 100 children, aged 7-16, including refugees and migrants from the 6-week NSWRL Multicultural program

The Crest,
Bass Hill

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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