Netball Australia Unveils First Nations Team to Compete on World Stage

Netball Australia has taken a groundbreaking step by launching its inaugural First Nations team, set to make its debut at the Pacific Aus Sports Netball Series in Brisbane from June 10-15. This momentous occasion not only showcases the exceptional talent of 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes from across the country, but also provides them with an invaluable opportunity to compete against international talent.

A Platform for Visibility and Recognition

This initiative aims to bring visibility and recognition to First Nations talent in Australia. Although the other nations competing have yet to be announced, past editions have included Netball World Cup teams such as Tonga, Fiji, Singapore, and Malawi. The First Nations team will operate as an invitational side, without tallying official caps or World Netball points like their opponents.

Hand-Selected Talent

The team has been carefully curated by Kamilaroi woman and First Nations engagement lead Ali Tucker-Munro, along with the sporting body’s chair of selections Michelle Wilkins and pathway head coach Anita Keelan. The selection process involved inviting players already identified in pathways based on their level of experience and skill.

Tucker-Munro expressed her excitement about the project, telling ABC Sport, “We wanted to create a space to showcase the amazing First Nations talent we have in this country, particularly those already in the high-performance space.”

Cultural and Athletic Connection

The initiative goes beyond showcasing athletic ability; it fosters connections among players on both a cultural and sporting level. Tucker-Munro emphasized the importance of bringing players together to connect as First Nations women, learn from one another, and share their cultural heritage.

Honoring the Journey

Tucker-Munro’s personal journey as a former Diamonds squad member and her experience coaching in various roles within her home state of NSW have prepared her for this role. Her coaching excellence was recognized in 2021 when she won the Margaret Corbett OAM coach of the year.

She envisions this team as a space for players to fill their spiritual and cultural cups, akin to the All Stars concept seen in rugby league. This approach empowers players to return to their regular teams with renewed energy and a deeper sense of cultural pride.

A New Era for Netball in Australia

Netball Australia’s decision to launch the First Nations team marks a significant moment in the sport’s history. By providing a platform for First Nations athletes to compete on the world stage, the organization is paving the way for greater inclusivity and representation in netball. This initiative is a testament to the power of sports to unite and uplift communities while celebrating the rich heritage of First Nations people.

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