THE North West Queensland Dragons return to the National Indigenous Football Championship in NSW.
The two teams borrow the Mount Isa PCYC bus to travel to Townsville next Saturday to reduce costs. From there they fly to Sydney and bus it to Nowra.
It is the second year of the championship. The inaugural competition was also held in Nowra.
This year the men’s captain is Tom Dempsey while women’s captain is Nakita Daley. They were chosen for their leadership on and off the field.
Women’s team manager Donna Ah-One said that the captains “take their roles very seriously”.
“They do exactly what they expect their players to do.
“They do the hard yards alongside their teammates.”
Representing their culture in the championship was “a big deal” to the players.
“To represent your people on a high scale against other people representing their region, that’s a big deal for our mob.
“So they are all keen to go down and give it their best. They have all put in 100 per cent each.”
For the Dragons men’s team coach Frank Lawler the competition was partly a chance at redemption and to prove themselves on the national field.
The men’s team won one game in last year’s championship and they aimed to improve on that result this year.
It also was an opportunity for local players to stand out for scouts who were looking to tap into the nation’s Indigenous talent, Lawler said.
“It’s a pathway,” he said.
“When you look at Rugby League and Aussie Rules, they have tapped into the Indigenous market, where as soccer is way behind.
“It’s basically the whole reason of showcasing Indigenous talent with this contest.
“The main aim for me is to see some of the players get picked for the Australian team. Obviously it’s a competition as well and obviously we want everyone to give account for themselves in that competition.
“We definitely want to do a lot better than we did last year.”
The teams have been training as a unit since July at Tony White Oval. The teams were also able to maintain their skills in the regular North West Queensland Soccer Zone season but training became harder when it finished.
During training at Tony White on Thursday night player Jeremy Dempsey said the players were more prepared and experienced than they had been at last year’s championship.
“We are looking to go down there and have a real crack at it this time. We have more experience to what’s going on. We have a little more fitness. The boys have played together all year well.”