It's 1am the morning of the women’s All Stars camp and Toomwomba based Samartha Leisha has just started packing… But this isn’t a story about time management.
Samartha is a 25-year-old single mother of five. Yep, five children and all are under the age of 10. Lilliana 9, Colin 8, Jye is 5 and the twins Bradley and Braxton are 4-years-old.
Every day she is up at 6am to get the three eldest kids ready for school as well as drop her twins off to day care. She spends her day at University, where she is studying her certificate four in fitness. Her course at USQ is to successfully help her score a job as a PE teacher in the region.
After taking her mum to her nursing shift at the hospital and doing the afternoon pick up Samartha is on dinner duty for the kids. At 11pm she collects her mum from work and by 1am she’s home and has some time to herself.
Only now can she think about what to take to Newcastle.
I’m told my dad was really passionate about his footy and I just want to keep that going and show my kids that you can do whatever you put my mind to.”
At 3am, teammate Emily Young and her mum picked up Samartha, along with Molly O’Connell and together they made the two hour drive to Brisbane to make the early morning flight to Newcastle.
Bleary eyed and with little or no sleep, she doesn’t complain. Such is her love for this team and the opportunity to play footy on a stage like tonight’s double header at Hunter Jones stadium.
“I love rugby league. I don’t have memory of my dad but I know he was a great rugby league player in central Queensland. I’m told he was really passionate about his footy and I just want to keep that going and show my kids that you can do whatever you put my mind to.”
Samartha hopes by the time her only daughter is old enough to play rugby league there will be more pathways for girls coming through the system, perhaps even a women’s competition.
“Lilliana loves watching me, she can’t wait to get out there and play one day. I support that”
Samartha’s mum, five kids and a whole lot of relatives are making the trip down to watch the 25-year-old debut for the Indigenous All Stars and she doesn’t want to let them down.
“I feel very proud to be running out there for them.”