You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Rugby league is helping play a part to welcome newly arrived migrants into Australia as part of the In League In Harmony program to commemorate World Refugee Day on Wednesday.

Students from Fairfield Intensive English centre completed the six-week program last week in an attempt from the game to help young people adapt to life in Australia.

More than 20 teenagers, some of whom were forced to flee their country due to war and violence, were given in-class education before taking part in skills-based drills learning the game.

Former NRL players and Community Engagement Officers Paul Franze and Joe Galuvao helped deliver strong messages to the group centred around the importance of communication.

"Fairfield intensive Englishcentre has been a really good experience, most of the boys are either Syrian or Iraqi, with a couple of Vietnamese kids," Franze told

In League In Harmony - Fairfield Intensive English Centre

"They've gone through hardship in their own country, now they've come here to adopt Australia as their own. We just try to encourage them of the opportunities that we can provide to them in Australia.

"It's a great opportunity to expose rugby league to them and get involved potentially down the track."

Franze remained honest towards some of the students' situations, indicating they were fresh into the country and were used to their own way of living overseas.

"We don't know what their background or baggage is but we tell them to make every post a winner," Franze said.

"If I was to think about my own family who came to this country for a better way of life, that's the type of message I want to get across to these boys.

"We want to make sure the message is clear, accurate and received. We share that message whether we're at an intensive English centre, at a high school or at a juvenile justice centre.

"We live in a multicultural world, especially Sydney, and all our families came here for a better life. It's the perfect opportunity to not waste."

Franze grew up with a strong Italian heritage in Newcastle before a four-year NRL career that included stints at Cronulla and Penrith.

While most of the students will have their televisions switched on the FIFA World Cup as opposed to Holden State of Origin on Sunday night given their backgrounds, he believes there is a place for everyone in the game.

"Rugby League does a massive job, all my family played soccer coming from an Italian background but rugby league was that one place that I felt comfortable," Franze said.

"It's a way of the Australian life, it doesn't matter where you come from, you learn the fundamentals of the game and away you go.

"The language barrier can play a bit of a challenge but rugby league is a sport and sport breaks down all barriers."

Students attended a celebration for their achievements at an In League In Harmony Gala Day in Sydney's West on Tuesday.

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.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners