This article excerpt first appeared in the Koori Mail, by Preston Campbell
There are a lot of educated people in the world but there is no doubt that most of us learn our most valuable lessons in the university of life.
The NRL recently held its annual Rookie Camp and it was great to hear my good mates George Rose and Billy Williams were on hand to commence the mentoring of the next crop of Indigenous players in the game.
In what was a select camp it was great to see fourteen young Indigenous lads get an insight into the demands and challenges of being an NRL player.
Billy Williams is well-known to most of the players in the NRL having delivered cultural awareness workshops across the game for over ten years.
He is often introduced as ‘The Professor’ but his lessons are from life and the learned lessons from our elders that have been handed down to us over many generations.
He combines serious messages with doses of humour but his presentation has always impacted on Indigenous and non-Indigenous players alike.
It starts from his acknowledgment of country and explaining the importance of this in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander terms rather than it being seen as a token statement.
It is a message that develops into respect for yourself, respect for the land and the respect for each other.
In speaking of respect for each other he tries to get all the players to develop an understanding of their own culture and an appreciation of the team and club culture central to being a successful NRL player.
This is all a part of the players being made feel welcome to the world of the NRL and accepted for who they are, where they come from and who they represent.
It gives all the players a platform to understand the other key messages delivered to them across the camp.
The players went away with a lot of knowledge but if all they learnt was the key message of respect from ‘Professor” Williams then the whole event was worthwhile.
Good luck to our next mob on their journeys!
© Koori Mail, by Preston Campbell