wolves partner with national indigenous football championships

The National Indigenous Football Championships (NIFC) Committee will be hosting the third annual Indigenous Championships in South Nowra, 1 through 3 November 2018. The event sees Indigenous people and teams from all over the country come together in this national event, to showcase the talent of indigenous football players, male and female, from across Australia.


This year the tournament is offering experiences for all who attend, including an accredited coaching course in conjunction with Coaching Unlimited and ALDI MiniRoos. This introduction to coaching course is open to anyone interested in supporting the development of Football in their communities.


This amazing initiative will be free and held at sessions throughout the tournament and will include workshops on Mental Health, Leadership and Nutrition.


This year also sees the inclusion of the first ever Elders Walking Football exhibition match featuring Elders from throughout the Shoalhaven participating in a game to promote Healthy Lifestyles and wellbeing. Our school children will participate in an ALDI MiniRoos Day focusing on developing ball skills and teamwork. This opportunity is being held in partnership with the NIFC committee and Wollongong Wolves FC and Jade North's “Kickin with a Cuz Clinic".


The children taking part in this year’s tournament will be able to experience not only a great sporting opportunity but an even better cultural experience. One the children will never forget, and which will significantly enhance their own personal experiences from our tournament.


These initiatives will be held in conjunction with the competition games from Thursday to Saturday. Over 400 Indigenous football players from 40 teams will be competing for the $10,000 prize pool. This includes 16 teams of young indigenous people participating in the Jade North World Cup Series. The NIFC committee would like to thank Jade North and his Kickin’ with a Cuz program and his ongoing support of the National Indigenous Football Championships. These teams will travel from all over the country including a team from Finke Mission in the Northern Territory.


The Yirara College team is made up of students from across the Northern Territory, with players from as far as Elliott and Borroloola to Hermannsburg/Ntaria. The students have all found common ground through their boarding school, Yirara College which is based in Alice Springs, and their love of Football. Yirara is extremely proud to be the only team representing the Northern Territory in the 2018 competition.

Bernie McLeod, tournament director and founder of Wreck Bay Sharks Football Club and NIFC, has been working tirelessly with Yirara College over the past three years to make this happen. The NIFC committee along with the Shoalhaven City Council have supported Yirara College with flights and accommodation to bring these kids' dreams to fruition.


“I particularly want to welcome our friends from the Western Desert Region, I believe that some of them have never before experienced the sea, and I do hope their interactions with our Salt Water people is enjoyable," McLeod said. 


McLeod has been an influential figure in introducing football across indigenous communities for over 30 years and creating football pathways for male and female indigenous players. The National Football Championships is a testament to his vision and efforts.


“This National Tournament marks a very special milestone in indigenous football. The competition brings together men, women and kids from across New South Wales, Queensland, New Zealand, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, under the theme Strengthen and Unite as One," McLeod added. 


“This event is an opportunity to showcase the skills of our first nations players. We have received overwhelming support over the past three years from the football fraternity, the corporate and government organisations involved and the Indigenous communities right across the nation. It just keeps getting bigger and stronger.”


Football Federation Australia (FFA) has officially lent their considerable support to the event with FFA CEO David Gallop scheduled to attend on Friday 2 November as a special guest.


The growth in popularity and participation of football among indigenous youth is an attractive prospect for FFA. Gallop said: “Football Federation Australia applauds this initiative and is keen to continue to support Indigenous football in Australia. On behalf of the Australian Football community, I would like to wish all the players, match officials, volunteers and the organisers to ensure a very enjoyable and successful tournament.”


State governing body Football NSW has also become far more involved in the tournament, committed to building on the already impressive achievements to date and growing the championships considerably in the future. Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge was glowing in his appraisal and support of the event.


“Football NSW is once again proud to support this premier grassroots indigenous football event," Hodge said.  


"The tournament is a great vehicle for Aboriginal football players to showcase their talent on a national stage and hopefully onto career pathways to W-League, A-League and national honours. I would like to wish all participants the best of luck in what will be a memorable tournament.”


Yirara extends a huge thank you to the NIFC and Mayor Amanda Findley of the Shoalhaven City Council who have made their participation in the event possible and would also like to thank the office of Senator Malarndirri McCarthy for their contributions in making this trip possible.


Shoalhaven City Council Mayor, Amanda Findley said: “We are delighted to have the National Indigenous Football Championships in the Shoalhaven and welcome all the enthusiastic competitors, officials and their families.


“We wish everyone the best of luck in the competition and hope they get an opportunity to enjoy the Shoalhaven’s amazing bushland, scenic beaches and the hospitality of our villages.”

Gareth Ward MP, member for Kiama, said: “I am very pleased to be supporting the National Indigenous Football Championships and I understand the importance of providing sporting opportunity for local Aboriginal people.


"This tournament promises to be a great event and I also acknowledge Football NSW, Shoalhaven City Council and the sponsors who have helped make it possible."


Shelly Hancock MP, Member for South Coast, added: “It is wonderful to welcome the National Indigenous Football Championships to the South Coast, an event which showcases the very best of Indigenous sport and provides opportunities to so many.


"South Nowra is the perfect venue for the coaching clinics and skills training, as well as the matches and exhibitions, and we are so pleased to be hosting all those who are visiting from far and wide.”

The 2018 National Indigenous Football Championships will offer the chance to participate in the National First Nations Team to represent Australia and play against the New Zealand Maori team in the second annual Trans-Tasman Cup to be held in January 2019.


Players who participate in the tournament have the chance to be selected for this national representative team which will be announced at the tournament presentation event to be held at Bomaderry Bowling Club on Saturday 3 November.


The NIFC committee would like to thank Shoalhaven Council for their assistance and support in helping this event to occur as well acknowledging our sponsors for their ongoing support. Without them the tournament and subsequent national team would be impossible.


An open invitation has been extended to everyone across all communities to attend this sporting and cultural extravaganza. There will be plenty of action and excitement on the field and just as much off the field over the entire three days. Something for everyone of all ages, backgrounds and cultures.

Walawaani yuinbaraga, wangannbaraga, garindjawaraga ba mudjbaraga - Welcome all men, women, youth and friends.

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