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Belmont High students give Roosters the ‘boot’

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When the Sydney Roosters run onto Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Friday night, you’ll probably hear shouts of joy ringing out from the Hunter.

The James Tedesco-led outfit will proudly don specially-created footwear in the NRL’s Indigenous round, as the club joins forces with the Cultural Choice Association for the Boots for Brighter Futures initiative.

While former Newcastle Knight Connor Watson is the driving force behind the concept, students from Belmont High School helped conceive this year’s design ahead of the team’s showdown with the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Principal Gareth Erskine said the pupils were very appreciative of the wonderful opportunity.

“Boots for Brighter Futures helps to raise awareness and support for young Indigenous people,” he explained.

“It also allows them to establish strong mental health and positive lifestyle habits.

“The program celebrates culture, too, with Indigenous students sharing their stories through their artwork designs painted on boots that are then presented to nominated NRL stars.

“So, the kids were excited to hand them over to Victor Radley, Egan Butcher, Sam Walker, Brandon Smith, Angus Crichton, Joseph Manu, Matt Lodge, Sitili Tupouniua, James Tedesco, Dylan Napa, Nat Butcher and local boy Fletcher Baker in person.”

Many pupils elected to incorporate motifs that reflected players journeys to the NRL, as well as symbols that display their cultural heritage.

Blake Haskew’s boots for The Cheese, New Zealand representative Brandon Smith.

Belmont High’s Blake Haskew designed New Zealand representative Smith’s boots.

“For Brandon, I included the logo of his junior club, the Waiheke Rams,” he said.

“To make it more personal, I also painted a block of cheese on the left boot because his nickname is ‘The Cheese’.”

Fellow Belmont High student Amelia Ridley was tasked with designing Baker’s footwear.

Her artwork tells the youngster’s story from growing up in Muswellbrook, playing for the Rams, to debuting for the Roosters. 

“When I was painting Fletcher’s, I thought about his family and his connection to culture,” Amelia said.

“The bird on the side of the right boot is a wedge tailed eagle, which is the totem of the Wonnarua people, who are the traditional owners of Muswellbrook, where he grew up.

“In my research, I also found that Fletcher has four immediate family members.

“So, I included them at a meeting place on the side of the boot to signify everyone coming together.”

After the showdown, the items will be auctioned through the Cultural Choice Association, who will invest all the proceeds into the program. 

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