The 2021 Cronulla-Sutherland District Junior Rugby League season was officially declared open at a successful Launch event held at PointsBet Stadium last Saturday.
On a perfect, sunny Autumn day, the event was well attended by members of both the Rugby League and extended Sutherland Shire community, in providing the perfect lead-in to this weekend’s first round of junior league matches.
Representatives from Sutherland Shire Council, the Cronulla Sharks, the local Referees Association, sponsors, Cronulla JRL Life members, parents, players and Committee members from the 14 affiliated Cronulla Junior League clubs were on hand for the launch which also unveiled a new major JRL sponsor.
Cronulla-Sutherland Junior League Chairman, Nathan Waugh shared some impressive statistics on the growing Junior League participation numbers in the Sutherland Shire, before shifting the focus to the strategic importance of key partnerships in announcing leading global provider of logistics and transportation solutions Aramex, as Cronulla Junior League’s major sponsorship partner for the 2021 and 2022 Junior League seasons.
Aramex, this year the major partner of the Sharks NRL club, were announced to be now extending their association with rugby league from the NRL to the grassroots level.
In addition, Waugh was also delighted to welcome Mexican inspired food chain Zambrero, to the Cronulla JRL family, as well as the Sports Medicine Institute at Miranda, operated by Sharks Chief Medical Officer Dr George Pitsis as the Principal Practitioner.
This year’s event took on a whole new look in comparison to previous seasons, with the launch hosted with a focus of what Junior League is all about - kids playing football.
“During our planning at the beginning of the year, our focus for the season launch was to showcase and celebrate young players, both male and female,” Waugh said. “The format was a great success, one that we will look to build on and grow in the years to come.”
With appearances from Cronulla Sharks players Royce Hunt, Jackson Ferris, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Club Captain Wade Graham, the young Junior League participants enjoyed taking part in a friendly game of ‘muck around’ football with their NRL heroes before the formalities commenced.
NRL Game Development Officers Huw Ellis and Alysha Jannsen also took the young participants through their paces with a series of games and activities, as the rest of the attendees looked on whilst enjoying live music performed by the talented Gemma Glendenning.
The formal proceedings also included an address from Cronulla Sharks CEO, Dino Mezzatesta.
Mezzatesta impressed upon the attendees the importance and commitment that the Sharks have towards the JRL.
“The partnership was stronger than ever before and the teams are working exceptionally well together,” Mezzatesta said. “This is evident with the Aramex sponsorship going from the top tier elite team right down to the junior league, demonstrating the desire and passion to ensure we have reach that captures our community as well as the NRL squad.”
Mezzatesta added the strong support of JRL continues with the Sharks extending their MOU while further enhancing their funding.
Further to the Aramex announcement, Cronulla Referees Association Executive Officer Jim Harding expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Association, with the Aramex logo set to be proudly displayed on their on-field uniforms.
Harding also had the honour of bestowing Life Membership to Cronulla Referees veteran George Chehoff. Known by all to have seen him officiate for his unique approach to refereeing, Chehoff was honoured for his 28 years of service to the Cronulla Referees Association.
With Round One of the Junior League season only days away, the excitement is building within the Sutherland Shire, with almost 5,000 participants set to take the field in male and female competitions from U/6’s to Open Ages, in both contact and non-contact forms of the game.
“We look forward to season 2021 and wish all clubs, players and volunteers a successful and fun year. Good luck to all,” Waugh said in summing up and concluding the 2021 season launch event.