The NRL today announced its fifth and final ‘Power For Change’ story for 2017, this time with a focus on the Game’s ‘In League In Harmony’ program.
The story of the In League In Harmony program is told through the eyes of Obed Karwhin, a refugee from Sierra Leone who together with his mother, fled war-torn West Africa when he was four years old.
Obed was introduced to rugby league 10 years later, aged 14, and has been playing the game ever since and helping to introduce more migrants to rugby league.
“I was one of the few lucky people to escape my home town and I got a great opportunity to come to Australia and start afresh,” Mr Karwhin said.
“My goal with rugby league is to be the first full African to play in the NRL and I am working really hard to make that happen.
“Rugby League changed my life and I’m glad I can help others too through the In League In Harmony program in bringing people from all backgrounds together.”
President of the Africa United Rugby League team, Steve Warwick, first introduced Obed to rugby league and has been supporting him ever since, with Obed referring to him as a second dad.
“Rugby League for Obed – it changed his life,” Mr Warwick said.
“It gave him new goals; it taught him respect and how to treat others.
“He just wanted an equal playing field alongside everyone else and he got that in rugby league.
“He made new friends and he’s just a wonderful guy that got the break he deserved.”
Obed has played for the Wests Tigers under 20s, as well as the North Sydney Bears.
Along with his rugby league, Obed is also an In League In Harmony ambassador and mentor to many new migrants to Australia.
The NRL’s In League In Harmony community program is delivered over six-weeks and aims to promote social cohesion amongst communities.
The program utilises practical and educational skills to deliver the course, which has seen thousands from high schools, juvenile justice centres and intensive English centres and schools across New South Wales participate.
NRL Head of Government and Community Relations, Jaymes Boland-Rudder, said Obed’s story, like so many other migrant and multicultural stories connected within rugby league, was inspiring.
“Obed is a leading example of someone who has overcome a difficult childhood and past and found the inclusiveness of rugby league that has provided him with the opportunity of a better and balanced life,” Mr Boland-Rudder said.
“Power For Change programs like In League In Harmony are vital to ensuring that as a game, we continue to provide a place for everyone – no matter their background or upbringing.”