GIPPSLAND’S indigenous community was out in force on Sunday for the second annual Budjeri Napan Koorie Football Netball competition at Ronald Reserve, Morwell.
About 200 players took to their respective playing surfaces to vie for the Koorie crown, but it was Bairnsdale side who defended its title in both sports at senior level.
East Gippsland again dominated the junior exhibition against Central West Gippsland, but Budjeri Napan sports committee member Peter Mongta said the focus of the match was to help indigenous youth find a path to club level footy.
“If we could see them participate and go back and play in a local club that would be fantastic and we’re going to really try to work out a way to support them,” he said.
“We might just be that link to the club and maybe we could explore some assistance to help some of our community (members) with large families or low socio economic standings.”
The underage kids were also catered for on the day through: a Hawthorne Hawks and Melbourne Demons football workshop, a netball session held by Melbourne Vixens shooter Karyn Howarth and a soccer clinic delivered by Gippsland Soccer League development officer Mark Cassar.
As one of the few all inclusive indigenous events in Gippsland, Mongta said he hoped the carnival would continue into the future and attract more community teams next year.
“The community loved it; for them it was about coming together and catching up with family, playing football in good spirit and it didn’t really matter at the end of the day who won,” he said.
“I think we need to put some more work into the other communities and give them a bit of help to put a team together.”
The inclusion of a ‘wildcard’ football side, comprised of individuals looking for a game but without a full team to enter, was a step in the right direction according to Mongta.
“They were actually quite competitive and they were very close to playing off in the grand final so it was really good for the ones who turned up,” he said.
A total of 10 senior netball teams and four football outfits entered the competition.
Senior Football: Bairnsdale 7.7 (49) defeated Boorun (Morwell) 2.8 (20).
Senior Netball: Bairnsdale defeated Bunarong 1.
Davey Burgoyne junior shield: East Gippsland defeated Central West Gippsland.
Junior Netball: Central West Gippsland defeated Black Butterflies (East Gippsland).
Best footballer: Anthony Bence (Boorun).
Best netballer: Nakita Hayes (Bairnsdale).