Why rugby league is targeting Australia's Indian community


India is known for its love of cricket. But for Australia's Indian community, that landscape may be about to be re-drawn.

The New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) has launched a 10-week 'Try League' pilot to attract new fans, including children of Indian descent. 

And if it's successful, many other multicultural communities could also benefit from the initiative.

"We've got to look at cultural markets and we've got to look at different ways people consume the sport," Yvette Downey, NSWRL head of football, told SBS News.

The pilot has been rolled out in the Guru Nanak Punjabi School in Sydney's west. 

Narinder Pal Singh
Narinder Pal Singh [left] with his two grandsons, daughter and wife.

Ms Downey said the program's goal is to make rugby league relevant to Australia's increasingly diverse population and keep children coming back for more.

"The old way of doing things - training two nights a week and play once a week over a season, running 18, 20 or more weeks - just doesn't appeal as much to people anymore," she told SBS News.

Kamaljeet Kaur Mandair said she is happy for her son to participate in the pilot.   

"Kids from different religions and cultures coming together to support the Australian culture," she said.

Punjabi School children at the NSWRL "Try League" scheme.
Rugby League is throwing out the welcome mat to school children from the Punjabi School in Western Sydney.
SBS - John Baldock

Narinder Pal Singh travelled from India to spend time with his grandsons. Watching them play rugby was an eye-opener.  

"I am happy that my grandsons and Punjabi children are being introduced to rugby," he told SBS News.

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