Find an­other idol: Cheika on Fo­lau

The Press - - Sport -

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.’’

Michael Cheika

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