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Adorable toddler and her doll steal NRL grand final and the nation’s heart

Rugby is a tough sport, which is perhaps why Australia was so enchanted when an adorable 3-year-old and her black doll stole the NRL grand final, spreading a message of inclusiveness and love.

With the recent spate of negative media attention surrounding the racist treatment of indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes and his consequent decision to take a break from the sport, it is heartening to see the very opposite take place at an NRL grand final.

While the game was already making history for having indigenous captains on each of the finalist teams — Justin Hodges of the Brisbane Broncos and Johnathan Thurston of the North Queensland Cowboys — it was Thurston’s daughter and her toy that ultimately brought the message home.

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Adorable 3-year-old Frankie came onto the field to congratulate her dad on his winning goal and victory clutching a black baby doll in her hand. The image of the toddler with her toy and her tearful dad has since gone viral on social media and has been touted as a symbol of inclusiveness and diversity.

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In a country where the indigenous people continue to be disadvantaged and suffer the nation’s highest rates of infant mortality, poor health, low levels of education and employment, shorter life expectancy and higher rates of youth suicide and juvenile detention, this form of cultural recognition and empowerment is particularly important and meaningful.

The power of the image is that it was not contrived or staged in any way. It was simply an earnest, honest and loving moment between a father and his child in a country that’s hopefully headed towards diversity, and that is beautiful.

More: How do you teach your kids about diversity?

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