• Woomeras players during a game in Melbourne. (The Point)Source: The Point
The Woomeras, the AFL's Indigenous 14-18 years women’s team in it's third year, compete in the Youth Girls National Championships in Melbourne.
By
Kris Flanders

Source:
The Point
16 May 2016 - 7:28 PM  UPDATED 16 May 2016 - 7:48 PM

It's a normal dressing shed with the normal sights and sounds. There's the coach pumping up his players and getting his charges set for a big effort.

There's the distinct smell of rubdown ointment and players doing up their boots and getting strapped.

These teen sisters are the Woomeras, the representative side made up of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from right across the country.

Woomeras player Louanna "Lou-Lou" Jones says she started playing football when she was 4 years old.

“I started playing with my cousins, it really got me into playing footy,” she told ‘The Point’.

"To get selected for a sport that I absolutely love and to represent my culture is amazing."

“So I started playing AusKick and then I played Youth Girls and then I came down to school in Ballarat Grammar, which is in Victoria. I started playing for a club, the Ballarat Swans.

Chiarah Rusca, another 2016 Woomeras player, says football has always been a part of her life.

“So to get selected for a sport that I absolutely love and to represent my culture is amazing.”

Torres Strait Islander player Tanne Fauid told 'The Point' it's kept her on track.

“AFL has been a really huge part of my life getting away from trouble,” she says.

“To be honest I reckon I'd be out on the streets, doing nothing and just causing trouble. Yeah it was amazing to get selected into the Woomeras and represent my cultures and my family back at home.

Nine teams competed at the Youth Girls National Championships held in Melbourne throughout last week representing all states and territories as well as other sides such as Victoria Country.

Woomeras Coach Guy "Chalky" Grey says the women have been pushing themselves out of “their comfort zone”.

“They've really done that well this week. I find that dealing with women or young girls in footy as opposed to boys, in the boys programs that I've been involved with, is that they're not very egotistical.

“There's not many egos. They can be really selfless.”

In 2015 there were 330 youth girls teams across Australia with total female participation at 318,880, which represents 25 per cent of all Australian football participants.

Narelle Long is a familiar figure when it comes to Indigenous AFL. She's worked alongside the Flying Boomerangs in the past and again has leant her expertise and guidance to the Woomeras team.

Long says she's proud of the side and the way it’s come together.

“One of the challenges we have as a Woomeras team is the girls only come together, you know, a day and a half before we actually play in the competition so one of the challenges we want them to do is create a sisterhood,” she says.

"It's a great opportunity and they just keep arising for these young women."

Courtney Ugle, rising football star and someone who will figure in the inaugural AFL Women's competition next year with Fremantle, has been assistant coach for the Woomeras during the tournament.

She believes the side is a timely avenue for aspiring Indigenous female players.

“The talent out there is just ridiculous, I mean we have our own little way that we play and I think the girls definitely showed that this week,” Ms Ugle told ‘The Point.’

“It's great now that the fact we can say ‘Yes I want to play AFL footy’.

“You know, a few years ago you'd be laughed at if you said that. I think it's a great opportunity and they just keep arising for these young women."

AFL star teaches kids football as ambassador of Indigenous Children's Day
AFL star and father of two, Courtney Dempsey, marked National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day by doing what he does best - teaching football to the little ones.

At only 20 years of age, Courtney, already carries a mature head on her shoulders and hopes some of that rubs off.

“I'm probably my biggest critic in that I say that I'm not really a role model but, I mean I've been involved in so much and it's just me giving back.”

Woomeras coach Guy Grey says while the scoreboard wasn’t on his team’s side for most of the tournament, the skills and improved efforts were something to savour.

“Every day they just got better.”