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Emily Latu

Emily Latu is the Social Inclusion Officer for the National Rugby League (NRL) and this is her story.

Born in Auburn, NSW Emily (known also by her Tongan name, Ofa) has always loved football. Her dad when young migrated to Australia from Tonga for Rugby Union and it must be in her blood. She grew up watching and loving Rugby Union and Rugby League and along with her older sister played for the Parramatta Junior Eels. 1 of 6 girls, the whole family has a love for sport and with her dad’s passing 10 years ago she feels she is honoring his memory by working in the world of football and being able to help young people using the game he loved.

My whole family loves sport, in particular Rugby League

Starting with the NRL back in 2011 as a Game Development Officer right when she began her university degree in Sport Management, she became the first Tongan employed by the NRL and one of few people of Pasifika heritage working in Rugby League and experienced being in the minority. Adding to that she was a young person and female, she knew that she had the perfect opportunity to bring about change.

Involved with growing participation through schools and encouraging young people to become players, coaches, referees and fans of the game, she then moved over to work in the NRL Community’s social cohesion program, In League in Harmony in 2013.

Living the NRL’s value that Rugby League is a “Game for Everyone”, in her current role Emily is responsible for planning and implementing community engagement strategies and programs that promote Rugby League as an inclusive sport.

Her role has her travelling Australia wide using Rugby League as a vehicle to create and promote positive social change. This includes working on the NRL’s In League In Harmony, Youth Ambassador and Pacific Youth programs. She also works on the NRL’s Voice Against Violence program, delivered Australia wide and in the Pacific.  

I am proud to work in a game that is committed to using its platform to promote community harmony.

Success for Emily is when young people realise they can make a change because of the positive relationships that playing and participating in sport can make. In part, helping to build a person’s capacity to be a real advocate for social change.

My passion is sport for development. Sport is universal. It has the incredible power to connect people and create change like no other platform.

Playing and working in Rugby League changed my life and I have the unique opportunity through my work with the NRL to inspire and empower young people to be champions and drivers for positive social change and that is something I am extremely proud of.

Being in her role, she sees it as an opportunity to pave the way and give hope to other young people.

Being young, female and of Tongan heritage is an integral part of my identity and I don’t let societal stereotypes define who I am or limit my capabilities, in fact it empowers me not to conform to the “norm”. 

Les Brown once quoted “someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” and it sings true to part of her ‘why’.

We all have the capacity to drive our own future and create a brighter one for those who follow behind us.