Article – November 2022 eNews

Rugby Victoria and the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) Le Mana Pasifika program have partnered to strengthen leadership pathways for young people playing rugby union in metropolitan Melbourne.

In an innovative approach, Rugby Victoria recognised the importance of partnership to empower the voices of young people to design a program that will not only provide the young people leadership opportunities but also strengthen the sport at a grassroots level.

Sharing a love of the sport, the program is the brainchild of Le Mana Youth Worker Tyson Tuala and Rugby Victoria Diversity & Inclusion Manager Mike Tauai and will build on the delivery of school and community clinics to develop leaders of tomorrow.

The first engagement has been the delivery of clinics, the most recent edition having a specific focus on promoting intercultural understanding. During the winter school holidays over 80 young people attended a clinic at the Moorabbin Rugby Club in an event that celebrated NAIDOC week, Tauai spoke fondly of the event saying,

“It was such a special time having the clinic during NAIDOC week with the opportunity to invite a Traditional Owner to perform a smoking ceremony. This certainly set the cultural awareness and learning for the day.”

Both Tauia and Tuala recognise the importance, and strength, of Pasifika culture in the sport. Le Mana Youth Worker Tuala highlighted that rugby’s young leaders were excited to be asked to contribute to the program development,

“We hosted a series of co-design sessions with young people that love the sport. They were pumped for an opportunity to sit down with us and be listened to.”

The sessions identified that the young leaders feel strongly connected to their culture through family networks and club-based role models but had some other ideas around what outcomes an off-field development program could have, Tuala added,

“Young people in our sport want to give back and build a program that will provide them with skills to help their local clubs not just survive but thrive”.

The program will use community mentors to support secondary school-aged students in developing project management and governance skills, allowing them to contribute to the everyday operations of their local clubs. Tauai says this is an important way to help improve Victorian community clubs and contribute to rugby nationally,

“We want our pathways to reflect the community that play our sport – we want more Pasifika young people in Victoria joining committees, helping with the administration of our sport and we want more Pasifika young people living in Victoria to play for the Rebels and Wallabies”.

Rugby is a sport that unites cultures, the diversity of the Wallabies line-up best demonstrates that. This exciting new Victorian-based youth development program builds on the strength of Pasifika culture to build stronger, more resilient clubs with the help of the next generation of leaders.

Through the partnership between a State Sporting Association (Rugby Victoria) and community based organisation (CMY), the program is built by Pasifika young people for Pasifika young people. This was reinforced by Tauai who has valued the connections established by Tuala and the Le Mana Pasifika program,

“Tyson and the CMY team have done an amazing job in connecting us directly to young people and helping us learn from them how the program should be designed and delivered”.

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