The National Rugby League (NRL) and RLPA have recently announced the recipients of the 2023 NRL and NRLW Indigenous Leadership & Excellence awards. Connor Watson and Tahlulah Tillett have been recognized for their outstanding contributions both on and off the field. These awards were unveiled as part of the NRL's Wellbeing & Education Awards, a platform dedicated to acknowledging the remarkable dedication, commitment, and hard work demonstrated by NRL and NRLW players in all aspects of their lives.
The Indigenous Leadership & Excellence awards celebrate the achievements of current NRL and NRLW Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander players who serve as role models, not only through their exceptional sporting prowess but also in their active engagement within their communities. To merit this recognition, the recipients are required to exhibit notable involvement and commitment in the realms of leadership, career development, education, and cultural engagement.
Dean Widders, NRL Indigenous Programs Manager, expressed immense pride in seeing Connor Watson and Tahlulah Tillett receive these honors. Both individuals, whom he has known since their teenage years, have shown remarkable dedication, not only on the field but also as inspiring figures off it. Their continuous efforts to uplift their fellow players and their broader communities have positioned them as leaders within the game of rugby league.
Watson, a proud Gamilaroi Man, has been awarded the NRL Indigenous Leadership & Excellence award. His leadership qualities are exemplified through his capacity to motivate and inspire others to explore diverse facets of their lives beyond the realm of football. Within his club, he takes the initiative to organize activities and events that promote cultural awareness, creativity, emotional well-being, and academic development. Connor Watson is also a director of the Cultural Choice Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and supporting the prevention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide. His impact on the Indigenous playing group promises to leave a lasting legacy.
Tahlulah Tillett, a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, has earned the NRLW Indigenous Leadership & Excellence award. Tahlulah actively mentors young aspiring rugby league players, encouraging them to take pride in their communities and heritage. In addition to her NRLW and All Stars participation, she plays a pivotal role in the Cowboys' community department, where she delivers vital messages on health and well-being to schools and community groups. Tahlulah recognizes the influence her rugby league profile affords her and strives to utilize it for the most positive impact possible.
These awards highlight the invaluable contributions made by Connor Watson and Tahlulah Tillett to the rugby league community and beyond, exemplifying the profound impact athletes can have as leaders and advocates for positive change.
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Photo Courtesy National Rugby League (NRL)
Courtesy National Rugby League (NRL)