How the 2017 Rugby World Cup brought the Lebanese community together
The Rugby League World Cup 2017 left a lasting impact on multicultural communities across the host nations of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Over the five weeks of the tournament, a number of teams faced off against each other in a tough competition and were supported by fans from around the world.
The Lebanese Cedars were drawn into a tough group stage, facing teams from Australia, England and France. The Lebanese team was the favourite to be knocked out, however, each of their matches drew huge crowds.
Anthony Alam is a prominent member of the Lebanese-Australian community, after building one of the largest social media networks for the Lebanese worldwide & the largest in Australia, United States and Canada.
Mr Alam said he was not expecting such a large number of people to come to the games and that many of the supporters attending the match simply because Lebanon was being represented.
“All the excitement was great and everyone was looking forward to the games, and even people who have never been to football games were there; people of all age groups and it was many people’s first game,” he said.
The Cedars is a team made up of many Australian-born Lebanese players but there has been growing support in Lebanon, with a collegiate-level championship continuing to grow and expand across the country.
As was demonstrated by the turn-out at the match, this support of the team and sport was just as strong in Australia.
“Although most of the people at the game were born here, they’ve still got the love and passion and they all visit Lebanon every year so just because they’re a Lebanese team, everyone supports them here,” Mr Alam said.
The Lebanese Rugby League football club was established in 2003 and has since worked extensively within the community, now delivering the sport to children in Beirut and North Lebanon.