Indigenous All Stars Match showcases more than just Rugby League

The annual 2019 Harvey Norman All Stars match took place at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on Friday the 15thof February.

The Women’s Indigenous All Stars match was taken out by the New Zealand Ferns in a thrilling 8-4 win. The team did not let this dampen their spirits as the game highlighted what will be another stellar year in the Women’s NRL Premiership.

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In what was a final battle of the cultures, the Australian Indigenous All Stars triumphantly defeated the New Zealand Maori Kiwis, 34-14. Despite both sides being incredibly competitive, it was a remarkable scene to see a marriage of cultures, history and community on the field for one night.

The match presented an opportunity for a week of cultural activities to be enjoyed by players as well as the community.

The week began on Monday with an official Welcoming Ceremony taking place with both nations representing their cultures through traditional performances.

KARI Foundation were major sponsors for the Australian Indigenous All Stars and were given access to training sessions and exclusive behind the scenes access of the week’s activities ahead of the match on Friday.

Thanks to the All Star’s Women’s coach Dean Widders, KARI were given the opportunity to attend the All Stars women’s first training session after touching down in Melbourne. The women put an immense amount of effort into each session in preparation for Friday’s game.

On the Wednesday evening, Cody Walker and Rebecca Young were announced as the captains for their respective teams. Both Cody and Rebecca were given the great opportunity of representing their culture in a way not many get the chance to experience.

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On the Thursday before the game, the official jersey presentation took place in a public display so fans could cheer on their respective teams. KARI CEO Casey Ralph was honoured to stand alongside KARI Founder Paul Ralph, who each presented the Women’s and Men’s Indigenous All Stars their jerseys. This presentation further cemented the monumental occasion of KARI appearing as the major sponsor for both teams.

While both teams were working hard in preparation for the big match on Friday night, a select group of youth were invited to attend a week-long Youth Summit.

The summit provided youth with opportunities to meet the players, while learning more about their culture. The youth summit consisted of an amazing race, where participants roamed Melbourne, visiting historical places that were significant to Indigenous culture. Activities also included dot painting, team building games as well as a workout each morning to engage the young people and prepare them for the day.

Not only did this week provide fun ways to learn more about their culture, but the participants also got to interact with players from both teams.

Two of KARI Foundation’s participants, Holli and Amy, were given the honour of conducting the coin toss for the men’s All Stars match.

“It was really cool, different to what I expected it to be but it was really exciting. Going to the game and doing the coin toss was definitely my favourite part of the week.” – Holli

“It was really good, it was great to meet the two captains and being able to go onto the field, I really enjoyed it.” – Amy

Thank you to the NRL for continuing to promote Indigenous excellence as well as our culture. KARI look forward to continuing to promote our culture alongside our corporate partners.