Kicking a clear pathway

A GROUP of talented Gippsland soccer players will travel to Alice Springs next month for the National Indigenous Football Festival after winning the State Youth Indigenous Football Tournament earlier this month.

The under 13 indigenous boys team defeated Melbourne All-Stars 4-3 in the state final, while the under 13 girls’ fell short in their decider against the same opposition.

Under 13 boys’ team manager and indigenous sport development officer for Sport and Recreation Victoria Peter Mongta said the carnival was an excellent introduction to the sport and platform for player development.

“The state wide carnival will run every year so as time goes on the popularity and support from the community (will grow) because there is a bit of a pathway in some ways and they can see something at the end of it; it’s a good opportunity,” Mongta said.

More than 300 players from across Victoria competed in the state carnival in Truganina as part of Football Federation Victoria’s Indigenous Football Development program, which aims to provide genuine opportunities within football through increased awareness and access to the game.

The Gippsland teams were selected from a seven per side Koorie soccer gala day, with the girls representative side comprised entirely of new soccer players, mostly from Moe.

Mongta is also involved with Budjeri Napan, a local community group promoting healthy lifestyles, that organised and supported the teams in the carnival as part of their ongoing commitment to junior sport.

“We’re just rapt that we’re giving the kids an opportunity through our sports community,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great experience; in Alice Springs it’s not just about the soccer, there will be a whole heap of cultural activities.

“Hopefully after that experience they can come back and share that with some of the other kids and we might get some more kids interested in local soccer.”

Mongta said Budjeri Napan would endeavour to work with FFV to support new players getting into the system and playing regularly in light of the under 13 teams’ success.

The Football Federation Australia nationals will be held on the first weekend in November.

Under 13 teams

Champion boy’s team: Marlon Johnstone (Captain), Edward Wightman, Josep Cooke, Blake Moore, Mustafa Al-Badre, Joshua Mongta, Zachary Mongta, coach Terry Burgess, team manager Peter Mongta.

Girl’s: Sharani Simpson, Tori Terrick, Terri-Lee Simpson, Shallima Naidu, Shanisha Simpson, coach Neal Daly, team manager Rehana Naidu