For 15 Western Australian Indigenous women and girls, the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime is just around the corner.
The Jambinu women’s soccer team will be heading over to Brisbane in November this year to compete in the First Nations Indigenous Football Cup tournament; an Indigenous soccer tournament held annually in the Queensland capital.
Supported by Football West and the Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation (GSAC), the Jambinu team will be heading over for the second time after competing in the three-day event in 2019. COVID-19 saw the 2020 event cancelled.
GSAC Executive Officer Adrian Bartlett said the Jambinus are looking for a wide selection of female players from around the state.
“We had girls from Geraldton, Perth, Kalgoorlie, Carnarvon, and Albany last year, which was really good,” Bartlett said.
“The girls that went last time said they can’t wait to try it again and go again. We’ve got a couple of Fly-In, Fly-Out women who are booking their time off already [for selections].”
Prospective players will have to be registered players who are involved in a local team at their own level.
Bartlett said that the team and the tournaments are important for keeping girls involved in sports and physical activity.
“As we know, the girls drop-off rate playing sport is quite high. So it’s all part of working on that, and soccer is a sport that girls do enjoy,” he said.
“We had probably seven or eight Aboriginal girls playing here, and they were very good. [The question was] what are we doing next? Or how can we keep them interested? That’s where that program came from.
“But the main aim for [GSAC] is to get girls playing mainstream sport here.”
Held at the Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex in Burpengary, north of Brisbane, the tournament was attended by 24 teams in 2019. Organisers are expecting at least as many to sign up again this year.
Though nominations are still open, so far the Jambinu women’s team is WA’s only entry to the competition.
There are cash prizes for winning teams, with $5,000 for first prize and $3,000 for second.
The First Nations Indigenous Football Cup tournament creates pathways to professional soccer for participants — selectors for the Australian Indigenous Teams attend the tournament looking for standout players.
Damien Munday, CEO of Queensland Indigenous Football, said participation gives players the chance to represent their communities and culture.
“It’s just a really good place for everyone to turn up and catch up with some with some different mob, have a chat and a laugh and enjoy some football at the same time. It’s just good to get together,” he said.
Queensland Indigenous Football is aiming to increase Indigenous participation in soccer.
Munday said there’s great enthusiasm for the organisation’s school holidays soccer clinics. Clinics are run in around 10 remote communities every school holidays.
“There’s definitely an interest within the Indigenous community at a youth level to look at soccer as an option, as opposed to rugby league or AFL,” Munday said.
“You’ve really only got NRL and AFL going into these communities, so that’s what we’re trying to do, to bridge the gap.”
Football West Administration Officer Midwest Tanya Amazzini said the team performed admirably during the 2019 tournament.
“We would like to thank the Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation and the Midwest Sporting Mid West Ports Authority Community Grants Round, who along with Football West have contributed significant funds to help us to participate,” Amazzini said.
By Sarah Smit