Indigenous schoolgirls from all over the country have gathered on the Gold Coast for a chance to take their netball skills to the next level.
Run by the Budgies Australian Netball Indigenous Corporation, the 2016 National Indigenous Schoolgirls carnival runs for six days, and brings together players from across Australia for the competitive and social event.
'The long term goals are to get the girls good enough that one day they will represent Australia.'
Fifteen-year-old goal shooter Darnah Duncan-Cope hails from Brisbane, and was first introduced to the sport nine years ago after watching her cousin play. She is a big fan of the tournament, and wishes to pursue a full-time career in netball “hopefully I get to play on TV, I want to go to the Olympics,” she told NITV.
“It’s [the carnival] just a good experience, having to work with girls that you don’t really play with … it makes you a better player when you learn off other players as well as yourself.”
There are four age groups competing - 12’s, 14’s, 16’s and 18’s - and Budgies Treasurer Deb Farrell says the carnival is a platform for these young girls to learn and grow.
“All the states and territories from all over Australia bring their teams and compete against each other,” she told NITV.
“From there we pick Budgies teams that represent the Australian Indigenous team … the 12-year-olds play national schoolgirls and compete against all the mainstream state teams, the 18’s go to overseas countries and play at an International Schoolgirls Carnival, so they get to play against other countries New Zealand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka those sort of places, and we work with them throughout the year through training camps and carnivals to give them development and coaching.”
Courtney Kelly-Scholes, who is also 15, is from the New South Wales town of Kempsey. Starting her netballing journey at five-years-old, she loves returning to the event as it gives her a sense of pride.
“I just like catching up with mates from previous years, it's an honour for my town because I live in a small town, and I get to make it further,” she said.
Courtney and Darnah have similar goals, and the Budgies too share a vision of success.
"The long term goals are to get the girls good enough that one day they will represent Australia in mainstream games,” said Ms Farrell.
Aside from the competition, the carnival is all about fun and friendship. The girls already have many funny stories from their Budgies experiences.
“There’s too many I can’t just choose one … it’s a fun time every time we come to netball but the Jukebox one [story] is good”, Darnah said.
“There’s this massive jukebox at the court and you pick songs on it and you can see all the girls dancing all through the stands and it’s just a good laugh … we make a little circle and breakdance.”
There was little surprise when Darnah was asked if she was the best dancer, “of course,” she said.