10 May 2024

Remote footballers celebrate top-three AFLQ Cup finish

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Team talk on the field

Game development coordinator Kieran Sciberras runs the team through match tactics before the opening clash of the competition. Photo: Chisa Hasegawa.

A line-up of girls from Bamaga and Thursday Island are celebrating success on the Australian football paddock after impressive performances in an interschool competition in Cairns last week.

With no AFL ovals back home, the young footballers finished third overall in the AFLQ School Cup, despite only playing together for the first time on game day.

AFL Cape York game development coordinator Kieran Sciberras said the games were a remarkable display of natural talent.

“The girls don’t necessarily have as much access to the competition as some of their southern or urban counterparts, but the natural talent still shines,” he said.

“They might have a bit of an underdog tag, because they’re newer to the game at this level, but they don’t give up.

“The confidence and bond built after they played one or two games, and they just kept improving.”

Last year’s AFLQ School Cup helped first-time Torres Strait player Mistee Sagigi show off her skill with the Sherrin, which put her on the radar of the under-16 Gold Coast Suns Academy.

Sagigi said knowing she could have professional football opportunities despite the tyranny of distance was special.

“Getting to know AFL changed my life and I’m surprised I’ve made it this far,” she said.

“This year, I was more confident, and was able to lead the younger girls, talk to them and make them feel a part of our group.”

Team photo with Mistee Sagigi in the middle

Torres Strait player Mistee Sagigi (holding football) was recognised following last year’s competition for the incredible natural talent she showed. Photo: Chisa Hasegawa.

The girls-only training was part of the AFL Cape York school clinic program, which travels all over the vast Cape York and Torres Strait catchment area to provide five- to six-week football programs.

Mr Sciberras said AFL Cape York delivered more than 931 football clinics to over 13,500 young people in 58 schools across 44 communities in 2023.

“Last year, AFL Cape York was the only organisation to run school sport clinics at every school campus across the Northern Peninsula Area and the Torres Strait, including all outer islands,” he said.

“Some communities are only accessible by four-wheel drive or boat, plane and even helicopter, so we rely heavily on sponsorship to make it happen.”

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