Past and present NRL players have joined over 500 students from across Western Sydney to celebrate the fourth annual National Harmony Day Festival at Merrylands Oval in Sydney.
The event – which coincides with this week's Play NRL Round – saw NRL community ambassadors, including Roy Asotasi, Nathan Merritt and Joe Galuvao, recognise the diversity of cultures that has helped grow the game.
Wests Tigers player Robbie Farah was also in attendance, sharing with NRL.com the importance of embracing people from all walks of life.
"We're here to celebrate all the different cultures we've got in our game. I think it's a strength of our game, the multiculturalism of it. I see that first-hand being of Lebanese heritage," Farah said.
"It's important to celebrate that sense of belonging, and being together in harmony to respect each other's cultures and backgrounds, and to appreciate and understand the different cultures that we're around every day.
"It's a great strength of our game that we have so many various cultures playing our great game of rugby league."
Farah has learnt plenty from his teammates at the Tigers, with the club home to a melting-pot of cultures from across the world.
"You speak to your teammates about their different way of life and culture growing up, whether that be guys of Islander descent, or Australian or any other background. I'm Middle Eastern, James Tedesco is Italian and the list goes on," the Tigers hooker told NRL.com.
"You're always learning about the different cultures around you, and obviously learning to respect that as well. People are different, and while they may be different, it doesn't mean it's wrong. That's the variety of the world we live in."
Friday's festivities included Polynesian dancers, a Middle Eastern smorgasbord of food, as well as a Touch Football tournament that entertained the local school children.
All students attending recently completed the NRL's 'In League In Harmony' community program, which aims to promote social cohesion amongst communities.
The program helps bring together youths from diverse communities to equip them with life lessons focussing on respect, courage, teamwork and positive leadership.
Female participation grows
For Jillaroos superstar Sam Bremner, one of the highlights of Friday's event was seeing so many young women taking part in the program. Her only regret was that she didn't get to do something similar when she was at school.
"It's really good to see so many people of so many different cultures who have come through the program. The main thing is how much fun they're all having and it's really good to be a part of," Bremner said.
"I was very surprised by how many young girls are here today. There are so many things the NRL does now that I wish were happening when I was younger.
"It's a great step forward for the game, and it'll probably just keep getting bigger and bigger and present more opportunities for girls looking to get involved."
Play NRL Round is focussed on encouraging people of all ages – from six to sixty and beyond, to sign up to enjoy their local footy – whether it be playing, coaching, volunteering, or refereeing.
For more information go to playnrl.com