Held in NSW’s Shoalhaven, the first fully national event will bring together 24 Indigenous men and women’s teams from across Australia and New Zealand to compete for national honours with the finals to be played on Sunday.
Indigenous players make up nine per cent of this year's AFL list, while 12 per cent of NRL players identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander athletes. This is attributed to targeted recruitment and talent identification programs.
In contrast, there are no more than handful Indigenous competitors in the A-League and W-League. This despite FFA figures showing 6,541 Indigenous footballers are registered to clubs around the country.
Wreck Bay Sharks FC President and Tournament Director, Bernie McLeod, McLeod believes this event is an opportunity to bring the skills of Aboriginal players to national attention and hopefully unveil a potential A-League star or discover future Matildas and Socceroos currently flying under the radar.
“The event has received overwhelming support from the football fraternity, the corporate and government organisations involved and the Indigenous communities right across the nation," he said.
"Football has got some catching up to do in terms of embracing Indigenous communities and making sure we provide opportunities for Indigenous boys and girls."
The tournament, expected to attract up to 1000 participants in its first year, will include a Johnny Warren Football Foundation celebrity match featuring the likes of Matilda Kyah Simon, Brisbane Roar star and former Socceroo Jade North, former Socceroo and SBS Chief Football Analyst, Craig Foster alongside fellow Indigenous sporting icons like Anthony Mundine, Andrew Walker, George Rose and Nathan Blacklock.