A LEGACY LIVES ON
Hawaii transitions from a tropical to a cultural paradise this week as the Queensland Indigenous Rugby League team touches down in preparation for their October 27th clash against the Hawaiian All Stars. On the surface it looks like your typical exhibition match as both teams boast reputable playing rosters and coaching staff, but as we will soon discover there’s much more to this tour than Rugby League. The Hawaiian’s will have current NRL player Cory Paterson at the helm of the side while the Indigenous team is being coached by former Queensland and Test Centre Tony Currie.
There will be no shortage of talent and experience on show as the Indigenous side brings with them seven players who have held NRL contracts in the past, along with four players from the Queensland Residents team. Included in this list is former Brisbane Broncos player Ian Lacey. The crafty halfback who plies his trade with the Ipswich Jets is expected to play a pivotal role in his side’s performance.
The Hawaiians are also expected to produce a strong lineup with the likes of Joshua Rice, Jayson Rego, and Dustin Umeda set to feature heavily. Apart from being regulars in the Tomahawks squad over the past few years, Rego and Rice have just spent a season honing their skills in the Intrust Super Cup of Australia.
While Rugby League is at the forefront of this historical event, in reality it’s merely the catalyst for serving a greater good raising awareness of social issues and promoting cultural understanding.
As well as playing in the match, the Indigenous side will visit the ‘Lolani Palace as special guests of Hawaii. There they will be exposed to the Native Hawaiian history in which there are many comparisons to their own culture.
One of the major reasons why the match is being played in Hawaii is because of the similarities of the Indigenous and Hawaiian cultures. Some of these similarities revolve around political, social, and health issues such as the following:
- In 1993, in what is commonly known as the Apology Resolution, the USA formally apologized to the Native Hawaiians for its participation in the overthrow and formally committed itself to a process of reconciliation.
- Native Hawaiians are 70% more likely to be obese
- Native Hawaiians are nearly three times more likely to suffer from diabetes
- 1.7 times more likely to die of heart disease
- Native Hawaiians are four times more likely to die from a stroke
As you can see the comparisons between the two cultures is striking.
During the tour players will be encouraged to talk about their own cultures using Rugby League as the vehicle for creating better lives. In areas such as education, health, and welfare, Rugby League has played a pivotal role in “closing the gap” so that better outcomes for Indigenous people can be achieved.
Accompanying the footballers in Hawaii will be The Jaran Troupe – an Indigenous Dance Group who will be performing some of the unique dances of Indigenous Australians. Just one example of a number of cultural exchanges expected to take place throughout the week.
The tour could not have been made possible without the support of a number of organizations who are committed to the education and welfare of Indigenous people.
Responsible for organizing this event is the Arthur Beetson Foundation, named in honor of the late Rugby League Immortal. Arthur’s life work was about helping young Australians, particularly Indigenous Australians, achieve better life outcomes in the key areas of health, education and welfare. According to Foundation Chairman and AMNRL Football Development Manager Steven Johnson “The tour is more than just a game of rugby league but a true cultural exchange between the indigenous people of Australia and Hawaii. The aim is not just to help promote the fast growing interest in Rugby League in Hawaii but to pass on how we in Australia have used Rugby League to create awareness and achieve better life outcomes for Indigenous Australians to the Hawaiian people.”
Special mention must also be made to the following organizations that provided assistance to make the tour possible.
- Queensland Rugby League
- Deadly Choices
- Murri Rugby League
- Triple Play Team Wear
- Australian Federal Police
- Hawaii Gridiron League
- Tikis Grill and Bar Waikiki
- Australian Consulate – General Honolulu
Locally in the USA and Hawaii, US League Chief David Niu has worked closely with Kelly McGill and Rob Marsom in Oahu to manage the event details with tremendous support from Rugby Hawaii Union President David 'Maafu' Wendt and his tireless Secretary Shelly Nuner.
This is another fine example of the power of Rugby League and the positive impact it can have on society. Big Artie would certainly be proud of this initiative. May his legacy live on!
Saturday October 27th Kaiser Stadium – Oahu, Hawaii
4pm – Hawaiian Gridiron League All Stars
East vs West
7pm – Queensland Indigenous vs Hawaiian All Stars
Tickets available at the gate:
Kids under 10: Free