Representing culture

Ulysses Roberts, pictured with Scott Mieni, was selected in the NSW under 16 Indigenous side to play the curtain-raiser for the NRL All Stars match.
Ulysses Roberts, pictured with Scott Mieni, was selected in the NSW under 16 Indigenous side to play the curtain-raiser for the NRL All Stars match.

ULYSSES Roberts is a player to keep an eye on.

The 15-year-old has recently returned from some intense rugby league action, which culminated in the curtain raiser game to the Indigenous All Stars.

For the past six months, Ulysses has been involved in the 2016 Indigenous camp, which is an opportunity for boys and girls to develop, not only as footballers, but as people – teaching them about rugby league, as well as education classes on fitness and more.

A total of 60 under-16 boys took to the field where they underwent physical testing and rugby league skills and drills – all vying for a position in the 20-man squad for the NSW Koori Indigenous under-16s.

Chair of selectors, Scott Mieni said the camp, which has been running since 2003, provides young Indigenous players with a pathway to improve their game.

“All of these kids aim to make it in the NRL, so it's a good experience for them to have, especially when they are still developing as footballers,” Scott said.

“They’re representing the state – they were under pressure all week and would have certainly felt it.

“Rugby league is just a window of opportunity, everyone needs a career to fall back on – so at the camp there is opportunities for education and job searches etc.”

Successful with selection, Ulysses played in the the curtain raiser to the Indigenous All Stars game.

The high-intensity clash, in which Ulysses was named man of the match by the coaches and selectors, ended in a come-from-behind victory to the NSW Koori Indigenous under-16 side, defeating their Queensland counterparts 16 points to 14.

Ulysses isn’t the first from the Nambucca Valley to participate in the camps and represent the state in the Koori side – since its beginning, there have been several players take part.

“I loved playing with the boys,” Ulysses said.

“We’re all Koori, so we had this great bond.

“It highlighted little things to focus on, which impact your game … just an overall different and great experience.”