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School to Work Sharks to show leadership at NRL Summit

After some words of wisdom from Nicho Hynes, NRL School to Work student Tane Mundine feels empowered to continue following in his footsteps as an Indigenous leader.

Mundine, from Christian Brothers' High School Lewisham, is well on his way, having been chosen to represent the Sharks at the multi-day NRL Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit next month alongside fellow Year 11 students Jendaya Glover (Ashcroft High), Mitchell Duric (Engadine High) and Bronte Hough (Lucas Heights Community School).

The impressive teenagers watched Cronulla's NRL team train on Friday before a special ceremony where they were presented with Sharks polos by Indigenous players including Hynes, Will Kennedy, Jesse Ramien and Niwhai Puru.

Hynes addressed the youngsters and their families, urging them to keep working hard and following their dreams.

"Seeing Nicho and all that for the first time off the field – showing his leadership in front of everyone, being able to stand up and congratulate us on our success in this program – it's massive," Mundine said.

Four representatives of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and/or Māori descent from each club will attend the NRL Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit (20-25 May), to be held at Blue Gum Lodge, Springwood outside of Sydney.

There, they'll participate in various cultural activities, workshops, team building exercises and games, mixing with likeminded people from Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and New Zealand. The camp will culminate with the group attending the Bulldogs v Dragons Indigenous Round match at Accor Stadium.

Sharks NRL School to Work project officer Jamal Chami mentors 35 aspirational Year 11 and 12 Indigenous students across 16 schools.

He said Mundine, Glover, Duric and Hough were selected for the Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit because of the traits they possess.

"They demonstrate leadership, embrace their culture and put their best forward at school, so they achieve things academically as well as within community," Chami said.

Established in 2012, the NRL School to Work program uses the positive profile of rugby league to help young Indigenous Australians complete school and transition into further study, training or meaningful employment.

Last year, the School to Work team supported 817 participants, including 453 Year 11 students and 364 Year 12 students, across 11 NRL club catchments with a combined completion rate of 94.9%.

"We cover a range of education and employability skills," Chami said. "We figure out what the kids' passions are and what they're interested in pursuing post-school.

"We equip them with the tools to get after it. If there are kids that want to go to university, which is the case here, we'll help them apply for uni and early entry.

"But if they're looking at different (employment) roles, we help them build resumes, do mock interviews, things like that, so they're prepared when they leave school and they don't just go into nothing."

He said it was a major thrill for the Sharks' Youth Leadership Summit representatives to mingle with and seek advice from the club's Indigenous NRL players and NRLW star Jada Taylor.

"It's a great opportunity for the kids to learn from these fellas. They probably would've come from similar backgrounds and circumstances, so it provides that little bit of relatability," Chami explained.

"And seeing someone that may have been in their position before go on and achieve their dreams, hopefully it's something they can draw inspiration from and do for themselves."

Mundine is looking forward to making new friends at the summit and "getting different perspectives from people in different locations".

Through the School to Work program, he has found his calling.

Asked what he wants to focus on in the future, he replied: "Something to do with boosting Indigenous voices in the community.

"Hopefully something in that – that's where the leadership comes in."

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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