• Some of the girls from the Tiwi Bombers Under-15s team who have participated in the leadership program since 2014. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The Tiwi Bombers youth side are looking to raise funds to keep their team in the game, with up to half of the girls needing financial support to travel in from remote communities to play in the Darwin-based NTFL competition.
Karina Marlow

12 Dec 2016 - 3:29 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2016 - 3:57 PM

The Under-15s team was formed in 2014 to help the girls to represent their community and to help give them the confidence to address some of the social issues that can affect their lives. Since their first season the team have won the premiership back to back.

Thirteen year old Tenisha joined the team last year as a midfielder and helped the girls to a resounding 106-0 win in Sunday’s match.  She flies in from Bathurst Island on Saturday evening and stays in Darwin to play in the weekly match on Sunday before heading home on the 2.5 hour ferry ride.

‘I love playing with the girls and getting on your feet, just having fun,” she told NITV.

Some of her teammates add another hour long bus ride to their return trip in order to travel in from other communities on the Tiwi Islands.

The team are looking to raise $30,000 to help the girls get on the field for the next season and to grow their leadership program so that the Club can continue the new Under 18s team for next year’s competition.

The Tiwi Bombers Football Club joined the Northern Territory Football League in the 2006/07 season as the first all-Indigenous team to play in a major league competition.

Karina Gray, who coaches the Under-15s team and has been involved with the Bombers since the start, saw that girls from remote communities across the Top End had limited opportunities to engage in mainstream sport.

As the Darwin-based business owner of social enterprise Starwin Shopfront she was able to use her management skills to develop a girl’s leadership program 'TalentEd' in the Bombers club.

“We are also supporting them to complete their education and focus on living healthy lifestyles,” she told NITV. “If we can grow a group of young leaders who can provide each other with peer support we can hopefully see them overcome the social disadvantages they face.” 

The Shopfront helps support the team through their involvement in football operations, generating sponsorship, recruiting and managing volunteers and providing leadership development opportunities for the girls, including the chance to undertake work experience.

The best thing about being involved Karina Gray says is the smiles: “These girls are so dedicated and just love their footy.”

“These girls are so dedicated and just love their footy. They are proud but humble and they truly aspire to do their best.”

“They are proud but humble and they truly aspire to do their best. Sometimes they stumble but they pick each other up and keep going. We truly hope to see them break the ranks into the new Women's AFL comp in a couple of years. “

As many of the girls have relatives playing in the AFL including Cyril Rioli Jnr, Sean Lemmens, Allen Christensen, Anthony Tipungwuti-McDonald and Daniel Rioli this dream may not be too far off.

For now the team is aiming to get some more investment so that they can take the girls on interstate representative trips and play against the best sides to test their talent. The hope is also to open up educational scholarships and sporting opportunities as the first round of girls graduate school so that they can pursue their goals both on and off the field.

To support the team’s financial appeal visit their fundraising page.