Round 1 of Hostplus Cup has arrived and while the rugby league action will be fierce, away from the hard-hits on the field and ‘friendly banter’ in the stands, clubs and fans across the state are being encouraged to embrace a spirit of togetherness during the opening round of the season.
During the first round of the Hostplus Cup season and across senior and junior local league competitions across the state, Queensland Rugby League is celebrating Harmony Round.
The round is being played in conjunction with Harmony Week, which is a time to celebrate multiculturalism and is all about promoting inclusiveness, respect and belonging.
The theme of Harmony Week is ‘Everyone belongs’ and people are encouraged to wear orange - a colour that traditionally signifies social communication and meaningful conversations. It also relates to the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect.
Through involvement in sport, whether as a participant, volunteer or spectator, people of all ages and cultures come together.
Tony Tumusa, a member of the Norths Devils squad, is proud of his Samoan and New Zealand background and also played in France before finding a home in Australia with the reigning Hostplus Cup premiership winners. He is a truly multicultural participant in the game.
The talented centre welcomed the addition of Harmony Round to the QRL calendar.
“I think it's really important to celebrate Harmony Round in rugby league,” Tumusa said.
“We have an Indigenous Round... that is a special round where we can pay our respects.
“Hopefully down the track we could get a Pacific Island round as well, where we can all play for our countries and play for who we look up to.
“I think Harmony Round is really good to have in the competition.”
There is an array of languages spoken in homes outside of English, including Mandarin, Arabic, and Italian, as well as 70 different Indigenous languages.
At the Devils, the club have been strong advocates when it comes to celebrating the cultural diversity in their playing squads for years with their locker rooms displaying the flags of each player’s nation and heritage above their names.
“I think it would be good if all clubs did that,” Tumusa said.
“It is pretty special to have a Samoan flag, a New Zealand flag and a cross by my name with my number for Norths Devils, it is really important to us to come to the sheds just to look around and see where we have all come from.
“This club is built on a lot of cultures out here and it is good that we all blend as one .
“It would be good if other clubs (are able to) do the same, but this is how we get through an bond together.
“You see some countries on people’s names here and you would not even think it... Jerome Veve, he’s from the USA... I didn’t know that before, but it’s good he’s able to represent his USA side.
“We have boys from England who we didn’t know were from England beforehand... Jared Chambers, he’s England-Samoan, and that is good.
“We have at lot of Māori, Indigenous players... we even have one Scotland over here, but everyone just comes together as a Norths Devil.”
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Within the Queensland Rugby League, there is a huge diversity in the backgrounds of the playing population, something which is strengthened by the Diversity and Inclusion Framework.
All up there are:
- 10 per cent of players born overseas
- 28 per cent of players with parents born overseas
- 21 per cent of players who identify and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
- 8 per cent of players who identify as Māori
- 175 countries represented by players participating in Queensland
Such a diverse range of people is something to be celebrated and across the game, rugby league fans are being encouraged to support Harmony Week and Harmony Round by wearing orange to Hostplus Cup games – alongside their favourite team colours, of course – and to take the opportunity to learn more about other cultures.
It is in diversity that teams find their strength; playing skills are spread throughout the players in a team who are all working towards a common goal – and that is something that remains true both on and off the field.
Hunters and Silktails celebrate connection, culture and passion for rugby league