The Harmony Nines has received a timely boost before it makes a welcome return to the Rugby League calendar on Saturday 29 October at Croome Road Sporting Complex in Albion Park with the Department of Regional NSW providing funding for the tournament.
More than 675 participants across 44 teams and representing 18 countries (and other areas) are expected to take part in the event which will focus on cultural celebrations and acknowledgment of heritage.
Heritage Rugby League NSW President Javed Hamidi said: “The Harmony Nines will be a culmination of a special return to football for many heritage clubs in NSW, and I thank the State Government Department of Regional NSW for showing their support for this tournament.
“It will celebrate culture and diversity through Rugby League, while focusing on development, as well as providing a fun festival atmosphere for all participants, their families and communities.”
North Macedonia will be involved for the first time in 2022 with the other countries taking part including Cambodia, Vietnam, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, NSW Maori, Ireland, Latin Heat, Italy, Malta, Lebanon and Pacific.
Teams will also take part representing Indigenous NSW and Western Sydney Indigenous, NSW Police and the Physical Disability Rugby League All Stars. Competitions will include male and female for Under 16s, Under 18s and Open Age, as well as Mixed Social Blues Tag and Physical Disability.
“The Harmony Nines continues to be a wonderful initiative. It will celebrate culture and diversity through Rugby League, while focussing on development, as well as providing a festival atmosphere for all participants, their families and communities” NSWRL Community Rugby League Manager Peter Clarke said.
The Harmony Nines NSW began in 2009 with the aim of increasing Rugby League participation in multicultural communities across the state, as well as encouraging stronger understanding and harmony through Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) groups.
The tournament was last held in 2018 and was prevented from restarting until this season because of the disruptions caused to community sport by the COVID pandemic.
All age groups play games in the nine-a-side format each day, with cultural celebrations from each region or nation at night.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the Regional Events Acceleration Fund is supporting the growth of existing regional events and attracting new major domestic and international events to regional NSW.
“Money is rolling out right across Regional NSW helping local events go from strength to strength and putting regional NSW on the map,” Mr Toole said.
“We know that hosting events in regional areas attracts visitors to towns, and those guests will spend money in local shops, grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant or café, and boost regional businesses and economies.
“The package has already supported more than 80 events and attracted an estimated one million visitors to the regions, laying the foundations for a strong recovery across regional NSW.”