Sharks Women’s Series Team captain Ruan Sims and NYC young gun Isaac Lumelume have been rewarded for efforts in the community by claiming awards at the NSW Pacific Communities Awards Night.
The NSWCPC Pacific Awards Night, held in Campbelltown last week, is the pinnacle event of their calendar, recognising the achievements of Pacific people in our communities and the contributions they make in our societies.
The awards are for those with Pacific Islander background for their excellence both on the field and for their work in the community outside of playing for the Sharks, with Sims and Lumelume both of Fijian heritage.
Sims claimed the Open Female Sports Award, while Lumelume was given a Highly Commended in the Open Male category.
The Sharks also claimed the Public Relations Award for their work with Pacific Nation diplomats and along with QORE for the club’s home stay program.
In relation to the individual accolades, Sims has had a focus on being an advocate for female participation in sport, assisting at skills development program sessions, supported the Sharks Tarsha Gale Cup side in 2017 and has featured for the female sport in Fiji campaign, participating in a video piece which featured on International Women’s Day in 2017.
Sims has also been to Fiji this year with NRL Game Development staff to promote Respect and Wellbeing in Schools as part of her ambassador role with the NRL.
As for Lumelume, his dedication and focus on the work he fulfils with the Sharks in the community day in and out as a club intern, which includes his work at junior clinics and his regular appearances at schools in support of the Make Bullying History Initiative and at the club’s new pre-school ‘Micro Jaws program’.
The accolades, in particular the Public Relations Award, came about as a culmination of the work done by the Sharks in fostering better international relations with Pacific Island people and their communities.
At a meeting back in March bringing together chief diplomats, community leaders, trade officials, thought leaders, and the management of the Cronulla Sharks, a couple of key questions were asked and discussed.
The Sharks raised the question as to why shouldn’t a leading sporting organisation play a role in fostering stronger relationships between nations and also why should business and sport continue to benefit from the outstanding efforts of the diplomatic community, and not play a significant role themselves in enhancing soft power in the region and assisting in the weaving of a thicker fabric that binds our nations together?
Just how sports diplomacy can be developed and used to move beyond policy and into action, and how can we strengthen Australia’s ties with its neighbours in the Pacific, where other issues addressed.
“The offer of true friendship was extended by the club to all of those present, and the nations and organisations they represented,” said Jonathan Prosser, Group GM – Strategy at the Sharks.
“The value of the dialogue itself was incredibly significant, and the initiatives developed in the session will grow into projects that will create opportunities for Pacific people and communities in Australia, and internationally.”
Following the awards night, the Sharks “received praise for their vision, humility, and for so openly sharing their passion for the Pacific. This has truly differentiated them in sport and in business, and in doing so has enabled them to step into international relations where their impact will be both positive and significant.”
Prosser was very moved to be a part of the combined QORE-Sharks team who put the diplomatic meeting event together earlier in the year and also in accepting the Public Relations Award from the NSWCPC on the club’s behalf.
“To receive this encouragement and recognition guides us that we are on the right path, but we also humbly recognise that there is a lot more to do,” Prosser said. “We will continue to collaborate with partners in sport, business, trade, diplomacy, government, and academia to bring communities together from grassroots and into international relations. It was a truly inspirational event, especially seeing the young people present recognised for their incredible contributions to the community.”
Shane Smith, the Sharks Head of Wellbeing & Education, who works with the Pacific Island players at the club daily, was proud of the Sharks commitment in this significant area.
“The feedback from some of our players of Pasifika heritage has been very encouraging. They [Sam Tagataese and Joseph Paulo] were so proud that not only is work being carried out with such a strong heart for Pacific communities and people, but that it was their club that was leading the way,” Smith said.