Up and coming Cronulla Sharks star Ronaldo Mulitalo has become an ambassador for Sydney’s Stepping Stone House, aiding them in striving for their goal of ending youth homelessness in Australia. His own childhood background of poverty and struggle gives Ronaldo a unique position from which to draw on and connect with young homeless people, as a mentor and an example of overcoming adversity.
Stepping Stone House provides long term accommodation and personal development programmes to young homeless people from around Australia. Like many of those currently using the Stepping Stone House services, Ronaldo grew up in a household where providing even the basics in life was tough for his family. Six years of his childhood saw his family living in a double garage in South Auckland, where their possessions would sometimes be stolen from beside them while they slept. Such experiences have given Ronaldo a personal connection with the challenges faced by the young people that Stepping Stone House supports.
Ronaldo’s mother has always been his guiding light and the leader of the family. Her strong work ethic made a huge impression as he was growing up, and as a Stepping Stone House ambassador he wants to impart that same drive and hope that she gave him. She initially encouraged his promising soccer skills (hence the name Ronaldo); but one day he saw his cousin playing rugby league and was hooked. For his first season of league he had to borrow a pair of boots from a neighbour, however, this clearly didn’t hold him back, and Ronaldo was recruited into the Cronulla Sharks development squad at the age of 16.
A lot of focus, resilience and hard training has seen Ronaldo overcome two shoulder reconstructions to achieve a breakout first grade season for the Sharks in 2019, and he has since been getting some big reps from some of the best players in the NRL. Playing and training alongside his childhood heroes has been a dream come true for Ronaldo, as well as further instilling in him a great attitude toward his career and his life. His priorities are to set up his family financially and be a good role model during his rugby league journey, and he has already begun by travelling to Papua New Guinea to work with disadvantaged kids. Becoming an ambassador for Stepping Stone House was an ideal way for him to use his position as a role model to connect directly with disadvantaged young people in Australia, helping them to aim high in life and show that hard beginnings can be overcome.