Toa Samoa Welcome Home Parade - Brisbane
Almost 3 weeks after Toa Samoa played their Grand Final game against Australia at the Rugby League World Cup in Manchester, UK, the last of the welcome home parades in Australia took place in Brisbane on the 10th of December.
The week before, Sydney based players had also attended a similar welcome home parade in Mt Druitt which featured NZ based singers Tree Vaifale and husband Swiss.
One of the Brisbane organisers, Castille Records co-owner Christian Brown estimated there were at least 2,000 people in attendance at the Brisbane Toa Samoa homecoming event which was held at Bill Norris Oval in Beenleigh and had come together through discussions between himeself and owner of Grubbies Burgers Restaurant Ben Niumata
They then teamed up with Jerry Lale & Stephen Talavave from Rugby League Samoa Queensland and decided that if it was going to be the last parade, they needed to feature and celebrate as many Toa Samoa players as possible. They formulated a plan to reach out to the playing group and ask who were available to attend the parade, and informed the players that they would cover all flights and accomodation as most of them were Sydney based.
"We were fortunate enough to have 9 players in total attend with 6 flying from Sydney - Josh Papali'i, Jayden Su'a, Anthony Milford, Royce Hunt, Braded Hamlin-Uele, Oregon Kaufusi, Spencer Leniu, Stephen Crichton and Junior Paulo." Brown said
"We were also lucky to have the blessing of Rugby League Samoa to hold this as an official parade and the president - Tagaloa Fa'afouina Su'a - flew in from Samoa to attend as well."
Jerry Lale & Rugby League Samoa Queensland worked tirelessly to get the support of local council & police to ensure a safe environment for all attendees but Christian said the event wouldn't have been possible without the amazing Polynesian owned businesses who sponsored the event.
"Care Group Community Services came on board as major sponsors along with Rugby League Samoa Qld, Nexus Care Services, Nesian Creations, Phiit Kid, Grubbies Burgers & Hawaiian BBQ & LeClique Clothing."
The event was not only an opportunity for the public to see the Toa Samoa boys up close and personal but with food stalls, giveaways and entertainment from Samoan performers like Wayno, Lisi, Faith Sosene and more, it gave the Samoan community a space to celebrate their culture and heritage together.
"For us as organisers, it was more fulfilling to see the smiles on the young faces. For us it's always been about the kids and I think that makes the players happy seeing that. We need to celebrate those who represent our small nation on the national stage."
"It's no secret that they don't get paid as well as if they chose to play for Australia or NZ so I know these little parades and celebrations mean a lot to the players. It also plants the seeds of the up and coming stars to choose to play for Toa." Christian added.
Photo Credit: Yonda Tupou - YLT Photography
Video Credit: Redeemer Visuals
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