- Thursday 13 October 2016
- Written by Peta Cooper
Participation and celebration are the key themes for the teams representing Gippsland’s Gunaikurnai people at the 2016 Murrun Dhelk Senior Statewide Koori Football and Netball Carnival.
“It’s not about winning or losing,” says Alana Solomon, who plays with the Bairnsdale-based group’s division one netball that is coming to Bendigo to compete in the October 15-16 event, and also helps out with the division two football side.
“It’s about everybody coming together and seeing family in happy times instead of at Sorry Business times and funerals, and about celebrating the natural sporting talent of our Koori men and women.”
Alana wants her team-mates to come away from the weekend having enjoyed the experience.
“We tell the girls not to go away with too high expectations, because it’s more about having a go.
“I always try to put in an A-grade netball side and although we have never been successful, it is to encourage the girls to play at a higher level because you have to play the best to be your best.”
Alana plays for and coaches the B-grade netball team and fills in for A-grade at Wy Yung, in the East Gippsland league, and was part of both sides’ grand-final-winning performances this season.
At the Koori carnival, her team will be coached by her mum.
“Mum normally suits up for it, and she’s 47 years old, but this time she’s coaching us because she’s done her ACL! She loves it.”
Alana has co-ordinating this year’s carnival teams alongside Max Solomon, Robbie Farnham and Deon Baxter, with financial support from the Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-operative.
The footy boys have been training 2-3 times a week in preparation for the competition, with players drawn from towns including Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Sale, Traralgon, Moe and Morwell.
Alana says interest in the Koori sporting carnival is growing among local players and she hopes her committee can go even bigger and better next year and enter even more teams from the region.
The event is an initiative of Victorian Aboriginal Youth Sport and Recreation and has been held for more than 30 years.
This is the second year in a row it is being hosted by Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative, in conjunction with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.
Action kicks off at 8am on Saturday and continues through until finals at lunch time on Sunday.
There are 23 football teams, 43 netball teams and two women’s AFL 9s teams taking part, with about 800 players and several thousand family members and friends coming to lend their support.