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Pasifika Diaspora and the Changing Face of Australian Rugby League

From: The Contemporary Pacific
Volume 26, Number 2, 2014
pp. 347-367 | 10.1353/cp.2014.0029

Abstract

Abstract:

This article investigates the sociocultural motivations of the Pasifika diaspora in Australian sport in the context of rugby league football. In 2011, some 36 percent of National Rugby League (nrl ) playing contracts were signed by players of Pasifika descent (). There has been an accompanying rise of Pasifika influence in the game: this is apparent on the field with the high profile of star Pasifika players and off the field with the intensification of welfare and education programs intended to accommodate Pasifika athletes in the National Rugby League. The purpose of this article is to critically analyze kinship networks, religious influences, and the sociocultural expectations placed on Pasifika footballers by various stakeholders and to evaluate how these factors either motivate these athletes to play in the National Rugby League or discourage them from doing so. The article explores what these experiences reveal about the nature of Pasifika communities in an Australian context. The material presented draws on the principal author’s original research on Australian rugby league and the experience of athletes of Pasifika descent, as well as his direct experience as a former sports education administrator and as the inaugural Pacific Islander coaching and development officer for the New South Wales Rugby League.