SIX young players were part of a Northern NSW Country side that finished second in the recent 2013 Girls State Indigenous Football Festival.
Held at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, the festival is part of the Football Federation of Australia’s “Football Dreaming Program”.
Football Dreaming encompasses Indigenous participation, talent identification, education and employment, while respecting the history and culture of indigenous life.
It is FFA’s aspiration to foster an improved environment and to assist indigenous communities in capturing and achieving their own football dreams.
The aim of the festival is to provide indigenous players the opportunity to play football, but to also provide a cultural experience.
The Northern NSW Country Koalas team consisted of 10 players and were coached by Northern Inland Football’s Steve Sharp.
Tyneshia Hoskins-Caldwell, Hazel Chatfield, Izzie Winter (from Armidale), Phoebe Cave, Georgia Taggart (Tamworth) and Madison Sharp (Quirindi) combined with players from Kempsey, Port Macquarie and Taree for the festival and competed against another squad from Northern NSW Football and four teams from Football NSW, which included a Country, Metro, Western and Riverina areas.
In the pool matches, the Northern NSW Country Koalas finished first in their group and second overall in the competition and went into the semis with some confidence, reported coach Steve Sharp.
A 2-nil semi final win over Football NSW Riverina Emus earned a grand final berth against the Football NSW Southern Goannas.
However the Koalas were unable to match the size and speed of the reigning champs despite playing some good football.
“The girls played fantastic football during the two days and received compliments from other players coaches and spectators,” Sharp said.
“Their efforts were amazing given that the girls were aged from 10 to 13. To attend a festival played in a competitive manner and come away runners-up was a fantastic result for the girls and one they should be very proud of.”
During the two days the girls also met W League players Renee Rollason (Sydney FC and the Westfield Matilda’s) and Kyah Simon (Western Sydney Wanderers and Westfield Matildas).
“This was a massive opportunity for the girls and a wonderful experience to listen to the girls and get some advice on what they need to do in achieving their dreams in football,” Sharp said.
“The girls have now returned and look forward to a small but well-earned break before heading into a new season.
The girls from Northern Inland Football were proud of their efforts and are looking to make the squad again next year to hopefully go one better.”