Until months ago they had never heard of rugby league let alone envisaged attending a match at Cbus Super Stadium.
They had come from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan, many of them refugees from strife torn regions and much of their new lives in Queensland was foreign. This was one of many new experiences the group of 60 embraced.
Around 60 new migrant families, now living in the Toowoomba area, attended the Titans-Eels clash at Cbus Super Stadium, all made possible by a league loving private benefactor who wanted the newcomers to our country to taste a Titans match particularly, and Men of League Foundation.
This experience was the second part of a three-part event put together by the MDA, a leading multicultural and settlement agency located in Brisbane, Rockhampton and Toowoomba. Kerrin Benson, CEO of MDA told us how the event started.
“Last week one of our sponsors Andrew O’Brien, the president of the Men of League Southern Division, stopped by to explain the game of rugby league to our clients,” Benson said.
“After he explained that league is a part of every Queenslander’s hearts, our clients were able to watch the broadcast of the Bulldogs game on television. Any questions they had were answered and any language barriers were addressed. At half-time our clients went out to the parking lot and enjoyed a mini game of league themselves.”
The next steps was to watch a game live and the group headed by bus to the Gold Coast and watched all the action from the northern stand. For all of them, not only was this their first live rugby league game, but the first time any of them have experienced a stadium atmosphere and the feeling of being surrounded by a large crowd. The feedback from the entire night and experience was “brilliant.”
The third part of this event will happen in the following weeks. The goal is to get these new Australians connected to local rugby league clubs. One way the centre is planning on doing this is by tying in a rugby league workshop and offering it to anyone under the age of 18. The Centre is hoping that by offering this workshop and getting the children involved with a local rugby league team, they will stay on a path to a better and brighter future.