When Kaliela Thornton first heard of the National Indigenous Football Championships, she knew she had to get a team together.
And she did. The team is named Dhinawan Yinarr which means Emu Woman in the Gomeroi language.
One reason Kaliela got the team together was to give Indigenous girls from around the region – players from the North West, Broken Hill, Newcastle and Sydney will play in the team – the chance to play at a higher level.
Another was to see her daughters play together.
Kaliela has six daughters – Taylor, 21, Jacinta, 19, Corrine, 17, Skye, 15, Violet, 11 and Trinity, 6 – who all play soccer and the four eldest will combine in the representative team.
While they have played together at school, Kaliela didn’t get the chance to experience that.
Kaliela expected her daughters to back each other up but also said they’d shoot straight.
“I think they’ll support each other in a good way. But they also help each other with a bit of harshness. The ‘get up there and get into it’ and ‘this is what you need to do’. I think it’ll be great,” she said.
I think they’ll support each in a good way.- Kaliela Thornton
The family affair doesn’t just stop with Kaliela and her four daughters. Violet will also play at the tournament with a team in the junior age group while there will be a few more relatives in the Dhinawan Yinarr side.
“We’ve got the two Kennedy girls, Shanti and Nickiah, they’re relatives and I’m sure through research we’d find some sort of connection [with others],” Kaliela, who is team manger/coach, said.
“I did have a lady contact me last night saying she was interested in playing for our team next year. She’s got 15 years experience as a goalkeeper and we’re close cousins but we didn’t know.
“The girl from Broken Hill is actually related as well.”
Jacinta – who plays for the grand final-winning Northies alongside Corrine – will captain the side at the championships in Nowra.
The team – who are being sponsored by Northern Inland Football, Healthwise, Metroll and Gomeroi Education and Training – will head down together on October 31 with the tournament to run from November 1-3. They hope to have a training before as well.
“[They’ll] maybe have a little run around before they go on and play but [they’ve had] no training other than with their soccer clubs and what they do individually with their fitness,” Kaliela said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.