Jayden Hodges (Manly Sea Eagles)  Digital Image by Ian Knight © nrlphotos.com: NRC, Rugby League, Round 8, Melbourne Storm v Manly Sea Eagles @ AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC, Saturday April 25th, 2015.

History

The Harvey Norman All Stars is a shining example of the way Rugby League can positively impact a national agenda while providing real support to individual communities.

Launched on the anniversary of the Federal Government’s apology to the stolen generation in 2010, the Harvey Norman All Stars is an important symbol of the way all Australians can celebrate a proud and unique Indigenous culture hand in hand with a vision for the future that all Australians can share.

In 2012, the emotional inauguration of the Arthur Beetson trophy, honouring the memory of the first Indigenous athlete ever to captain an Australian sporting team, was a poignant reminder of the deep engagement Rugby League has always maintained with Indigenous Australia.

Rugby League is the sport that provides inspiration, sporting and education opportunity and Indigenous communities provide some of the greatest athletes and leaders the game has seen. Players such as Preston Campbell, Laurie Daley, Greg Inglis, the late Arthur Beetson and Lionel Morgan have gone on to become inspiration leaders within the sport and the community.

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Importance

The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars is a week-long celebration of Rugby League’s commitment to Indigenous Australia and the broad appeal of the game.

It is an event that recognises the need for constitutional change, the pride of Indigenous communities cheering their team on a national sporting stage and the aspirations of Indigenous youth.

The impact on the field is immense but it’s off the playing field where the concept is creating a real impact 52 weeks of the year, changing the lives of Indigenous youth and making a positive difference in Indigenous communities across the country.

Since its inauguration, the profits from the match form the foundation of a multi-million dollar investment in Indigenous community programs. Programs are aimed towards Indigenous youth and include mentoring sessions, workshops, cultural activities, assistance with learning, behaviour & attendance, self-esteem, leadership, communication and social skills.

This article first appeared on nrl.com