Kruise Leeming: If you see it … you can be it 

Leeds Rhinos captain Kruise Leeming

Two years ago many organisations promised changes after the murder of 46-year-old Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis. Nearly all sports pledged to be more equal. More diverse. And more inclusive. Have the events of May 25 in 2020 changed the culture in sport?

Sky Sports News spoke to sportsmen and sportswomen from eight different sports including Leeds Rhinos captain Kruise Leeming for a special show called ‘George Floyd 2 Years On…Has Sport Changed’ on all Sky Sports channels on Wednesday night at 2230.

Leeds Rhinos captain Kruise Leeming was born in Swaziland (now Eswatini) and spent the first four years of his life there.

Now in a leadership role, this season’s new captain praises his club and rugby league for the work done over the last two years. But how has the culture in celebrating diversity changed?

Leeming says: “I think it’s been great for us as a sport. I think what it’s done for rugby league is instead of my experience, instead of the maybe talking about it, it’s just created awareness and maybe we celebrate it more now.

“We celebrate having different ethnicities and different backgrounds in rugby league, whereas before it was you’d have three or four Black lads play for your team. It was just normal and wasn’t celebrated as much.

“Now you look back and you’ve had Martin Offiah, Ellery Hanley. At Leeds we’ve got a heritage wall where these people are put on show and we get a chance to celebrate their lives a bit more.”

Leeming says his mother set a “great example” by coming to England as a Black woman and breaking barriers.

“She made her own business. And she set such a good example for me of not only being a woman but being a Black woman as well. She made it possible for me to be successful because I saw her being successful. She always made me strong and proud of where I come from because of what she’d done.”

Leeds Rhinos captain Kruise Leeming with his mother.

The England and Rhinos hooker is very positive about the change in culture in rugby league and says the sport and all the teams are united.

Leeming says: “We’re blessed within our sport that it’s very limited I think, the abuse that you do get. It is still happening and there are still fans and the odd word gets said, which is so disappointing. But I think on the whole, for us as a sport of rugby league, I think we’re so blessed. And I think that [the abuse] it’s very minimal.

“I think Leeds as a community invites so many different backgrounds to it as a place anyway. From the rugby league side our coaching staff, we’ve got Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Rhinos assistant coach), we’ve got Chev Walker (Under-18s and reserves head coach). I’m a Black captain of a massive organisation and I think that is bringing through the young lads and they’re seeing these people in these high-end roles. And if you see it, you can be it.

“Everyone at the top has got behind it, all the teams have got behind it, all the captains have got behind it. And I think like our sport is one of the best for being for Black Lives Matter. I think we’ve got it right.”

Leeds Rhinos coaches Chev Walker and Jamie Jones-Buchanan

To read the article in full click here including the full interview with Kruise Leeming.