The recent Pro League weekend in Perth was memorable for a host of reasons but for seven Indigenous girls from Far North Queensland, it was an experience almost beyond words.
As part of Hockey Australia’s first dedicated Indigenous weekend, students from Cairns Hockey’s Aspire to be Deadly program were given the opportunity to be a unique part of the celebrations.
The Indigenous students selected for the trip were chosen from Cairns West State School and acknowledged by their peers prior to their departure for their leadership and commitment to meeting and exceeding their goals, including excellent school attendances, respect and responsibility at school, at home and through the hockey program.
All but one of the girls had never flown that far and three had never flown before, so what a way to take your first flight by travelling the breadth of the country from Cairns to Perth.
Attending both of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras’ FIH Pro League match days against Argentina, the students were an integral part of the weekend’s festivities.
Highlights included playing alongside current members of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras in modified games during half time of the Pro League matches, meeting dual Olympian and former Hockeyroo Nova Peris OAM, and given prime viewing positions to watch Australia’s national teams in action.
There was also the chance to get autographs from the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras players, while Argentina’s women’s team also proved popular.
Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier was thrilled to be able to support the initiative that provided these young Indigenous girls an opportunity of a lifetime.
“Considering all of the various elements and activations that took place around our first Indigenous themed round, having these young Indigenous girls from Cairns part of it and providing them with this experience was certainly one of the best things to come from the weekend,” said Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier.
“To see the smiles on their faces and the fun they had during their time in Perth is evidence of the positive difference and impact the Aspire to be Deadly Program is having in Far North Queensland.
“Huge credit to Julie McNeil and her team for what they are doing in this region, both from a hockey sense but more importantly from a life and wellbeing perspective.”
McNeil, who is the General Manager of the Aspire to be Deadly Program, said the leadership the girls demonstrated set them apart to be chosen to represent Cairns and Far North Queensland, the school and the program.
“The students wore new uniforms that were specially designed for them in representing the country of Torres Strait, Cape York, Cairns and Far North Queensland,” said McNeil.
“These girls enjoyed experiences that were never before possible, while also continuing to teach them to live, learn and lead well, but most importantly empowering them to look after one another.”
“Without the support of Hockey Australia, this would never have become a reality. For many of the students this is a life changing opportunity and we thank Hockey Australia for the collaboration and support that has been shown for the Aspire Team at Cairns Hockey.”
For more information on the Cairns Aspire t be Deadly program, visit www.cairnshockey.com.au/aspire