Football Australia General Manager of First Nations, Courtney Fewquandie can only see upside in Indigenous inclusion and excellence in the world game.
The NSW First Nations Football Festival returned to Yuin country across the first weekend of November after the area hosted last year's contest following a two-year absence through the pandemic.
Dating back to 2016, first played as the National Indigenous Football Championships, the festival brought mob from across the state together for competition and community in equal spades.
Men's and women's draws competed across under 14s and senior fixtures.
In some games, parents, children and family members took the field together.
Competitors from Newcastle, Central Coast and South Coast regions were represented.
Ms Fewquandie told National Indigenous Times while some teams drew largely from a club base, others came together more organically with culture in focus.
"It's been amazing to see the growth and outreach now for more New South Wales based communities to get together and celebrate each other, connect culturally and also showcase the best of Indigenous talent within New South Wales," she said.
"Culturally, I think it was just a big, beautiful family event.
"It was really very family focused, and that's a place where our mob really thrive, and you could see that on the field as well. There was just some incredible talent."
Representation of Indigenous Australians at the highest level in football, and in the national side, has trailed behind other codes.
Ms Fewquandie said festival's like this are a big factor in changing this going forward, as an "unofficial pathway".
National Premier League clubs and academies have visibility on the best performing players from the festival.
"As we are able to create more pathways and programs and opportunities for selection and to develop our First Nations talent, the better. This competition is part of a much larger picture. It's been great to see it grow," she said.
"It was really great to see the next generation of First Nations coaches grow in that kind of environment."
Year on year, hopes are for bigger and better events. In part, harnessing the popularity of the Socceroos and explosion in popularity around the Matildas following this year's FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia.
Ms Fewquandie said she'd love to see this harnessed "for our mob to see that it's definitely a sport that they not only belong in, but they can thrive in, and there's a pathway through to professional representation...(and also to) coach, referee, volunteer, administrate".
"I think it's undeniable that it (the festival) will continue to grow and grow."
NSW First Nations Football Festival Winners
Boys - Newcastle All Stars
Girls - Newcastle All Stars – Black
Men's - Newcastle All Stars – Reds
Women's - Central Coast Indij Girls