NRL All Stars join St Mary’s students for an afternoon of belonging

On Tuesday, 7 February the Year 7 students of St Mary’s Catholic College, Gateshead spent the afternoon learning the values of respect, belonging and celebrating diversity as part of the NRL Schools Development program.

Players from the World All Stars, Simone Karpani and Nene Macdonald and Indigenous All Stars, Aidan Sezer and Rebecca Riley shared their views on respect with the students and what belonging to a team means to them.

The session was hosted by Mattie Sharman from the NRL Development team engaged students throughout the presentation by rewarding them with mini footballs and prizes for contributing to the discussion.

“The session was a good mixture of supporting a sport and sending out a positive message to the students,” said TAS Coordinator, Scott Asimus.

“This type of positive reinforcement by athletes within a community, who are looked up to so much, confirms the message we as a school are sending as well.

“The message of respecting one another, celebrating differences, working as a team and the difficulties of being in a new environment were excellent timing for a new year 7 students as they start high school.”

The session celebrated diversity through discussion of what diversity actually means and its inclusions of many factors including culture, size, religion and heritage.

With St Mary’s having a girls football team for the past three years, having professional female players present at the session gave the Year 7 students a true insight into the game and what the possibilities are for women in the sport.

Redfern All Blacks player, Rebecca Riley, said she “can’t wait to represent my family and culture on Friday night. Women’s involvement in the sport is growing. Hopefully it will get bigger as the months and years go on so that it will be just as big a thing as for the men in coming years.”

“To run out in an Indigenous jersey means more than everything to me,” said Rebecca.

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Amanda Skehan Image
Amanda Skehan

Amanda Skehan was the Marketing Team Leader for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular contributor to Aurora and