First Nations Football Festival a stunning success


It was all smiles at this year’s First Nations Football Festival held at the South Nowra Complex as the tournament proved to be a smash hit in what was a memorable experience for the hundreds of players, coaches, referees, administrators, and spectators celebrating our proud First Nations community.

The event kick started in great fashion last Wednesday thanks to a special ‘Welcome to Country’ and opening ceremony that greeted clubs from across the state in both the Under 14 boys and girls age groups as well as the senior men and women.

Friday saw the Under 14’s category take centre stage as the Newcastle All Stars reigned supreme taking out both U14 Boys and Girls finals against Dhubu Dinawan.

Saturday saw the senior men’s and women’s in action as well as a special celebrity match that was played which included former Socceroos, First Nations role models, Football NSW and Football Australia staff as well as non-Indigenous athletes take part. It was Jade North’s side that proved too strong winning 3-2 in what was a fun and exciting match.

This led to the finals of both the Men’s and Women’s with the Central Coast Mariners coming up on top in the ladies category winning 3-1 over the Newcastle All Stars, while in the Men’s Newcastle All Stars proved too strong defeating the Northern Nations 7-1.

After missing two years to COVID restricted seasons, it was great to see the tournament up and running again, not only to see familiar faces again, but to see all the new participants,” said Greg Hartge, coach of the Central Coast Mariners women’s side.

“The majority of my Mariners girls were only in their teens and hadn’t participated before, so to see what it meant to them to play alongside our more senior players and to not only play football but to learn more about our culture from them was a great experience.

“To then see the pride and joy and what winning the tournament meant to the whole team was something that I take great pride in and one myself and the team will never forget.”

Along with the quality football action on hand, Jade North ran his ‘Kickin with a Cuz’ concept while there were special clinics run by Football NSW, Wollongong Wolves and Sydney FC as well as the Heartbeat of Football that also took part in the festivities.