Find another idol: Cheika on Folau
Michael Cheika has suggested children should find new idols if their sporting heroes, such as Israel Folau, make comments they don’t agree with.
The Wallabies coach was asked what he might say to a gay child who idolised Folau, after reading his recent social media commentary on homosexuality.
Cheika told the Kick & Chase panel on Australian TV’s Fox Sports that children should have the self-esteem to reject messages they don’t like.
‘‘Self-esteem in people, no matter who they are, is extremely important. If that’s something you don’t agree with, you detach from that,’’ he said. ‘‘The way it will be is ‘he’s no longer my idol’ if that’s the case. There’s been a lot made of that but self-esteem is so important and as parents, which I am, and as coaches, it’s something I try to do with the [Wallabies] lads.’’
Folau, who is a devout Christian, has come under heavy fire for anti-gay comments and posts on social media. The storm engulfed the Waratahs in recent weeks, with New South Wales rugby boss Andrew Hore conceding the organisation had been put under pressure as a result of Folau’s continued pronouncements and the subsequent storm of commentary and speculation from within Australia and abroad.
Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle, who has thus far chosen not to reprimand Folau but asked him to keep his comments respectful, also said the saga was affecting her organisation.
Cheika had not commented publicly on the matter until his TV appearance on Wednesday night.
When challenged by host Nick McArdle about a child’s capacity to critically appraise a hero’s comments and ‘detach’, as suggested, Cheika said: ‘‘He has to ‘detach’. I’m not saying it’s up to the kids. I’m talking about parents – you’ve got to protect those kids from things, other things out there you might not like. I really do believe that whole thinking about believing in yourself, and having self-confidence, no matter what situation you’re in, is so ultra important.’’