The search has started for a group of talented Indigenous rugby players to join the third international tour.
The independently organised IAIR—Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby—team will tour Romania, Croatia, Hungry, Austria and the Czech Republic in 2021.
The three-week tour is the third of its kind after previously visiting the US and Canada. Players spend two years preparing for the trip, which is an opportunity to share culture through rugby.
“It’s a mentoring program. So we’re not looking for the best athletes, we’re looking for people with a good character who are keen to commit to the two-year build-up,” IAIR Manager Darrell Morris wrote in the call for applications.
The tour is self-funded by the athletes.
In 2018 the team visited America and spent time learning off the field.
“We went out to Mohawk, the Five Nations tribal area, which has five different Indigenous roots in Canada,” Morris said.
“We got a really good cultural insight into what they’re doing there and what they’re about.”
The players had the chance to listen to the chief of the tribe speak and Morris said the issues he addressed reflected the issues faced by Indigenous Australians, both politically and socially.
Morris has maintained contact with some of the people they met during the 2018 tour. One of the coaches, a young Indigenous lady from Ontario, will join the 2021 group as a coaching assistant.
A nurse the IAIR team met in California is also expected to join the tour of Eastern Europe as the team doctor.
In addition to a great on-field opportunity, the IAIR management team hope they can use the overseas adventure to help the athletes develop culturally and spiritually, to become leaders in their own community.
Thirty players will be selected by a three-person selection panel and the final squad is due to be announced at the end of this year.