As an owner and Chairman of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, the key message from me to our club and supporters, the rugby league community and a wider society is a simple one:
The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles represent inclusiveness.
We do not discriminate between an individual’s race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or anything else that we should be celebrating collectively as an evolved society.
We respect all individuals.
These values and beliefs were the motivation behind why we wanted to create a jersey that represented EVERYONE IN LEAGUE.
It should have been an acknowledgement that celebrated differences under the banner of inclusiveness.
We are all different in many ways, but we are all the same - we are all human beings.
I stand with the club’s management and the inspiration for why we wanted to do this.
But whilst the intention of why we wanted to do this was authentic – and still is - we must learn from how the message was lost in translation through the process of implementation.
I accept that our own genuine narrative of why we wanted to celebrate inclusiveness has been lost.
Our promotion of inclusiveness – and why we were doing it - needed to start more broadly internally - with all staff and players engaged before it was communicated publicly.
This is something that is being addressed internally – and will be further led by the incoming Chief Executive Officer Tony Mestrov who starts in his role on Monday.
We have learned lessons from this and we hope others may learn lessons from this also, but we will make no apologies for why we were motivated to do it.
I have read a lot of the commentary this week before arriving back in Sydney today. Some of it is fair, some is not.
But I accept that Manly Warringah Sea Eagles now has the job to unite its club, players, supporters and become the leader of inclusiveness that we whole-heartedly desire to be.
As a football team, our Manly side will tonight play the Sydney Roosters for the Gotcha4Life Cup, which is an important part of our club’s engagement with the mental health charity led by a champion of inclusion, Gus Worland.
As reported, a portion of the proceeds from the match will be used to make a difference to the mental health of members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Our fantastic sponsor Shaw and Partners have donated $100,000 to Gotcha4Life as a result of their commitment to supporting Mental Health.
The Owners of the Sea Eagles intend to match their commitment and will also be donating $100,000 to Gotcha4Life to celebrate inclusiveness and the importance of positive mental health.