Australian South Sea Islanders in the 21st century
Islanders' sporting prowess
Despite discrimination in sport over colour, a significant number of Australian
South Sea Islanders have achieved the highest levels in their chosen sports.
In the 1940s and 1950s Alex McColl was the schoolteacher at Eimeo State School. He helped form the 'Pioneers' rugby team in the Mirani league. He also recruited most of the players from among young Aboriginals and Islanders in the district.
Other Islander rugby players have excelled themselves locally. Des Eggmolesse for example, played for the Queensland state champion team from Wide Bay in 1966 and for the Bundaberg champions, the 'Wanderers'.
Some Islanders have reached the top of their chosen sport. Baden Choppy represented Australia in hockey in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Ken Nagas, Mal Meninga and Sam Backo were formerly teammates at the Canberra 'Raiders' rugby league team.
Mal Meninga has captained the state and Australian rugby league teams and is widely regarded as one of the greatest league players. His achievements in rugby, his modesty, community work and general demeanour made him the ideal choice, in 2001, as the first patron of Queensland's new Australian South Sea Islander Community Foundation.