The Tiwi Bombers first women’s side scored a big win in their debut match, sending a wave of excitement through the Tiwi Islands communities.
The Islands have been home to a number of football stars over the decades, and the Bombers men’s team have dazzled in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) for almost 15 years.
The women’s side defeated the Division 2 Nightcliff Tigers at TIO Stadium in Darwin by 40 points. The February 5 match was part of a series of exhibition games.
Territory football icon Colleen Gwynne, the team’s head coach, has coached notable NTFL teams and was assistant coach at Adelaide in the AFL Women’s league.
She is supported in her new role by Essendon Victorian Football League player and Noongar woman Courtney Ugle.
Players from Pirlangimpi, Milikapiti, Wurrumiyanga, Pika and Darwin came together to form the team.
Captain Laelia Dunn, 30, has been playing football since the NTFL Women’s started when she was 14 or 15 years old. Dunn made her name as a forward with St Mary’s.
Alongside her mother, Dunn played a role in organising the first Tiwi Bombers women’s team.
There are now almost 60 players on the Bombers’ playing list, highlighting the big pool of football talent in the Tiwi Islands.
Playing in their first game was a moment of great pride, Dunn said.
“Pride, excitement, enthusiasm — a lot of emotions, too many to put into words,” she said.
“It is great to have our own women’s team finally in the NTFL Women’s competition. It is something I have been looking forward to for quite a while, playing for our home team in the NTFL.”
Dunn, who led from the centre, said the support from the Tiwi Islands communities has been fantastic.
“Everyone is excited, and very proud,” she said.
“When the ladies got back to their communities after the first game everyone got around them … the girls have been showcasing football, everyone is excited and looking forward to the next few games.”
By Giovanni Torre