‘Everything I do is for her’: Sharks flyer Ramien says daughter helped forge his career

Jesse Ramien's first inclination was to quit rugby league when he became a father at just 16 years of age.

He was playing junior football for Manly at the time and still living on the Central Coast with his auntie, but figured he should give it away and begin working full-time to provide for his daughter LaSharn.

Future star: Jesse Ramien is one of the brightest young centres in the NRL.

Photo: AAP

Ramien was a talented footballer, and his father and older brother talked him into sticking with the craft rather than abandoning it given what the game could provide him should he make it to the NRL.

That decision led to him signing with Cronulla midway through 2016, and the classy outside back from Coonamble and his four-year-old daughter haven't looked back.

"I was 16 when she came along, it was pretty tough when I found out," Ramien told Fairfax Media.


"At the time I didn't know what to do, I was just like yeah, maybe I've got to quit footy and just work.

"My old man, he had me pretty young and my older brother, he was in a similar situation to me, he moved away from home when he was young, lived with our auntie on the Central Coast and he ended up having a little boy when he was pretty young, he was around the same age.

"I had a good talk to him when I found out and he helped me a lot as did my old man. I thought if I could stick at it and just handle it for a few more years and try and make something I could really set myself and my little girl up with footy.

"She's the absolute love of my life, everything I do is for her. She loves it, she absolutely loves footy."

Ramien came good on his promise to succeed in the game for his little girl, making his NRL debut last year.

He has scored two tries in five appearances in the centres this season, and will play again against Parramatta on Saturday as the Sharks chase a third straight win.

The junior Kangaroo has already shored up his future too, having signed with the Newcastle Knights for 2019 which will move him closer to LaSharn.

But were it not for his parents' forward thinking almost 10 years ago, Ramien would most likely still be in Coonamble, a town of barely 3000 people in NSW's central west about 164km north of Dubbo.

Born to an Indigenous mother in 1997, Ramien joined a growing family which at the time included three brothers and two sisters, and has since expanded to also include a younger brother and sister.

He fell in love with rugby league before he could walk, and from a young age would accompany his dad to footy training, Ramien's father being the captain coach of the Coonamble Bears at the time.

"It's a pretty small community, everyone knows everyone there, everyone's pretty tight there, it's just small, there's not much around," Ramien said.

"If you're playing sport or something that's one of the only hobbies you can do. A lot of people ride bulls out there and there's a bit of fishing every now and then.

"Our family is really sport orientated so every weekend we'd be going to do something whether it's my footy, my little brother's footy, sister's netball, there was always something on the go.

"You can go the wrong way really quick back in Coonamble, there's not much there, it's been on the news a couple of times for a few bad incidents, a few drug raids. A lot of my mates from childhood have taken the wrong path pretty easily."

It was this uncertain future in the country that led to Ramien's parents relocating him to Newcastle when he was 11, more specifically to the Kirinari Hostel where he stayed for two years before moving in with his auntie on the Central Coast.

He started attending Hunter Sports High School and quickly emerged as one of the region's most talented footballers.

But it was his stint at Kirinari Hostel set him on a path that would ultimately allow him to pursue an NRL career.

"It was good in there, everyone was real welcoming, all the boys were in my position as well, we all formed a pretty tight bond other Aboriginal kids moving away from their families, trying to better themselves," Ramien said.

"We were like a family, they were pretty much my brothers, and house parents in there, everything we did, we did together.

"[It was] definitely a tough transition period, moving down there, being so young. My old man and my mum, all my family, my Nan, they'd come down and see me whenever they could, if I ever got a bit homesick.

"Looking back at it now it shows me how much that they wanted me to go in the right direction and make something of myself."

Now Ramien is desperate to give his daughter every chance to make something of herself.

"It's a massive opportunity for me to provide for my little girl, once she come along she was pretty much all I cared about," Ramien said.

"It's all pretty much anyone cares about that has a family. When they're playing, they want to provide for their family, play good footy.

"Now that she's come along I have an opportunity to do that and I'm going to do what I can and everything I can to play my best footy and provide for her."

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James Buckley

James Buckley writes on AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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