Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks player Ronaldo Mulitalo has been crowned the game’s Man of the Year, winning the 2021 Ken Stephen Medal.
The medal was presented at Suncorp Stadium this evening ahead of the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final, by 2020 Ken Stephen Medallist Connor Watson and Rugby League Immortal Wally Lewis.
Mulitalo was crowned the 33rd Ken Stephen Medallist ahead of finalists Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jamal Fogarty (Gold Coast Titans) and Ryan Matterson (Parramatta Eels).
Mulitalo helped deliver NRL’s Voice Against Violence and League Bilong Laif programs in schools during his time in Papua New Guinea, while also focussing on supporting children with disabilities by participating in Sharks All Abilities School Program and the Skillz4me program.
His own childhood circumstances drove his interest to become an ambassador for Stepping Stone House charity, focusing on providing youth with a safe home and educational and employment opportunities.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo congratulated Mulitalo, and all the Ken Stephen Medal nominees, for their outstanding off-field contributions.
“Ronaldo has endured many challenges in his journey, but his passion to give back and his genuine commitment to the community spans multiple countries and programs. He has made a real difference to several communities,’’ he said.
“From the work he did with the Sharks community by offering groceries, supplies and support to staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic to the support of Fine Kula through his battle with brain cancer.
“He has a genuine passion for doing good. On behalf of everyone in the game, I congratulate Ronaldo for earning the Ken Stephen Medal in 2021 through his positive actions.”
The Veronica White Medal will be awarded in alignment with the NRL Telstra Women’s Premiership season in early 2022.
The 2021 Ken Stephen Medal and the Community Club of the Year is supported by Your local club.
ClubsNSW Chairman Dr George Peponis OAM said: “At just 21 years of age, Ronaldo is already such an incredible role model and his work — both on and off the field — is truly admirable.
“Our organisation is very proud to have sponsored the NRL’s Ken Stephen Medal under the Your Local Club banner this year. The competition was very tight, and we wish Ronaldo and all of the other nominees continued success in the years to come.”
An overview of the Ken Stephen Medal Finalists can be found here: https://www.nrl.com/news/2021/09/27/2021-ken-stephen-medal-finalists-announced/
An overview of the NRL Community Awards Grassroots winners and finalists can be found at https://www.nrl.com/news/2021/09/29/nrl-community-awards-grassroots-heroes-recognised/