Indigenous Sport Month: Broncos star Kotoni Staggs reveals the female role models behind his rise

Kotoni Staggs has made a huge impression in a short space of time in the NRL with the Broncos.

Currently nearing the end of a long convalescing period after a serious knee injury, the proud Wiradjuri man opens up on what his heritage and culture means to him.

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Kotoni Staggs takes his role as an Indigenous athlete very seriously.Source:Getty Images

What Indigenous nations are you connected with?

I am connected to the Wiradjuri nation from my mum’s side of the family on the central coast of NSW and our totem is the goanna. I come from Wellington in western NSW.

What does your heritage and culture mean to you?

It means a lot to me. I am a proud Aboriginal man. I am a big believer in my culture, I am half-Aboriginal, half-Tongan and I’m just starting to get to know a bit about my Tongan heritage. I’m proud of who I am and I don’t want to change who I am. I grew up around my Indigenous side of the family and I went to school with a lot of Indigenous friends and cousins, so I know that side a lot more than my Tongan side. I’m a big believer in culture and especially my Indigenous background and things like the Indigenous Round and our Indigenous jersey take on special meaning to all Aboriginal people.

The best advice I was ever given?

Chase your dreams and never let someone tell you can’t do something.

The Broncos star names Darren Lockyer as his sporting hero.Source:Supplied

If I wasn’t I sport, I would be?

A builder. I have been doing my carpentry apprenticeship to give me a career for life after football.

When people see me I hope they think?

I’m a nice, genuine, caring person who likes to look after others and put other people first.

Family means?

Everything to myself. I have a big family and they support me with everything I have been through, so they are my No.1. I come from a small Indigenous community in Wellington, so when I play, I feel I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing my family as well.

Staggs (second left) has played a part oin the annual All Stars festivities.Source:Supplied

My weird sporting superstition is?

Every game, as I put my boots on, I put on my left shoe first and tie that one up before I put my right boot on.

My sporting hero is?

Darren Lockyer. He was just a natural footballer who wasn’t the biggest bloke, but he was so competitive. I’ve tried to get that competitive streak from the way ‘Locky’ played.

What’s it like being an Indigenous athlete today?

It’s something I never thought would happen in my life. It makes me proud of who I am, what I’ve achieved so far and the legacy I want to leave to my Indigenous people by playing NRL.

Kotoni Staggs says his uncle was a huge influence on him growing up.Source:AAP

Who put you on your pathway?

My uncle was a huge influence for me growing up. He would always be the one encouraging me to go outside and play football with him.

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration would be my nan and my mum. To get me where I am today, they were the ones who made the sacrifices to get me to this position today at the Broncos. I am always thankful for what they have done.

What is the key priority to improve players and leadership opportunities for the next generation of Indigenous athletes?

Everyone can be a leader and speaking is what can make you a leader. It’s important not to run away from stuff. As a young kid, I would hide away, I had questions I wanted to ask but I was too scared to use my voice. The older I have gotten, the more confident I have been to use my voice and I have found my voice can be quite strong and a lot of people who know me now would agree with that. I am believing in myself a lot more now and I like being a role model to kids and my family.

Originally published asThe female role models behind the rise of Broncos star

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