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Participants in the NRL In League In Harmony program in Perth.

The NRL has continued to promote the game and its values in Western Australia by taking the In League In Harmony program there for the first time.

Normally a six-week program, In League In Harmony uses social cohesion workshops and non-contact training sessions to address topics like racism, gender inequality, cultural diversity and bullying.

Twenty rugby league players from various Perth high schools were given a condensed two-day version of the program, culminating in a gala day.

Former NRL player and community program deliverer Clinton Toopi and NRL community manager Steve Meredith were on hand to teach the important messages.

"The wonderful thing about the ILIH program is that it allows students from different cultures or friendship groups to connect with each other, which they may not have done otherwise," Toopi, an ex-New Zealand international, told

Participants in the In League in Harmony program.
Participants in the In League in Harmony program. ©NRL Photos

"But when they participate in In League In Harmony, they get to see some strengths of a student they may have had a perception about or may not even talk to. That's what I love about it.

"It allows students to better understand each other in our schools or communities and we also get an insight into what their family values and beliefs are and obviously their culture and religion falls into play as well.

"New friendships are established and there’s a sense of respect developing. This is a program ... in my opinion, no other code is facilitating and I think that's valuable for our game."

Toopi said the participants responded well to In League In Harmony's non-formal education style and he was impressed by the "natural-born leaders" in the group.

It's not just about playing rugby league, it's about being a good community member

Rockingham High School teacher Isaac Thomas

All 20 students have been selected to take part in the NRL's prestigious Youth Advocate Program, starting with a leadership workshop in December.

They'll also assist NRL WA with the delivery of the WA Harmony Cup tournament in the same month.

"When we're equipping students with our [NRL] beliefs and values, it’s great for us to know they're naturally buying into what the game is delivering in our communities," Toopi said.

"We got a really good group of young men and we got the response that we intended."

Rockingham Senior High School PE teacher Isaac Thomas said it was "awesome" to have In League In Harmony to reinforce the positive messages the school is trying to convey.

"It's not just about playing rugby league, it's about being a good community member," Thomas said.

"[In the program] they spoke about teamwork, communication, appreciating each other and diversity. For us it's invaluable and the boys have taken a lot away from it. Thank you to the NRL."

Participants in the In League In Harmony program.
Participants in the In League In Harmony program. ©NRL Photos

Toopi and Meredith also dropped into junior clubs during their trip across the Nullarbor to share the new Inspire program, which will be rolled out in 2020.

"I think the Inspire session is fantastic. It's a great extension to the State of Mind [mental health] program," said Rockingham Sharks president Peter Rowe.

"It'll be fantastic when other teams, clubs and juniors around the country get hold of it and see it.

"I would advise every club president out there to get on board and get your kids involved because this is a really fantastic project."

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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