As a kid, Ronaldo Mulitalo’s home consisted of a string of leaky garages that would flood when it rained.
Only big enough for one person, he would often squeeze in with two other people — including his mum.
It’s an upbringing that seems a world away from the bright lights of the NRL but the Cronulla winger will never forget those early days in South Auckland. It’s why the 20-year-old broke down in tears when addressing his teammates about his ambassadorial role with Sydney homeless charity Stepping Stone House, as he asked them to chip in to save even just one kid’s life.
To ram home just how important this work is, Mulitalo told his fellow footy stars the story of a young girl who ran away from home after being “raped 15 times” by her stepdad.
“Stepping Stone House came over and took her in. She said when she ran away, she joined a family — Stepping Stone House had put her in a house,” Mulitalo said, in vision captured by Channel 9.
“She left her shoes on every time she fell asleep. Reason for that — she was scared every day he was going to come back and rape her.
“All I’m trying to do, boys, is to try and take some kids off the street. I’ve been there.”
The young gun wasn’t expecting to become overwhelmed with emotion when fronting the Sharks, but he couldn’t hold back as the enormity of the impact he — and the NRL community — could have, really hit home.
Mulitalo wants his impact to extend beyond the field.Source:AAP
“I felt a ball of emotion just because I felt like I got hit with a reality check of where I’m at in my life,” Mulitalo told Nine’s Danny Weidler.
“I felt like I was standing in front of, not my mates, but a group of men that have the power to save a kid’s life.
“I didn’t know I was going to get that emotional, but that’s what it really meant to me.”
Mulitalo is a relative rookie in the NRL, having played 17 games and scored 11 tries. But no matter where his rugby league career takes him, the Sharks star will always know there are more important things in life than footy.
His perspective on the world is seriously impressive for someone so young, particularly in a field where it’s easy to become carried away with fame and fortune.
“I just knew when I joined this sport that if I ever did become something, I’d be pretty upset with myself, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something while I was here, while I had the platform to do it,” Mulitalo told Nine.
“I’ve done it while I’ve had no money and I will do it while I have money.”
The Sharks have been incredibly supportive of Mulitalo’s “Give 5, Get 5” campaign, which encourages people to donate as little as $5, and are encouraging other footy players to get on board.
Mulitalo brought a bucket to training last week and scooped up $1500 in a single day, and is hoping to raise at least $10,000 all up in the next month.
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