Female footy players kicking goals
WHEN it comes to footy, Kyamara Kelly is a passionate player who plays well above her diminutive frame.
Watching her dart about the field, Kyamara uses her size to her advantage as she deftly manoeuvres between opposition players,
The 13-year old mid-fielder is the youngest on the AFL NSW/ACT Kickstart Team, which is one of seven indigenous teams participating in the 2017 Female Diversity Championships in Byron Bay this week.
As one of the Arawkwal people and part of the Bundjalung Nation, Kayamara said she was thrilled the indigenous teams were playing along with seven multicultural teams in the 14 team, 200 player event which has drawn athletes from all over the country.
"The Diversity Championships are a chance to represent your culture and your team and to meet new people," she said.
"I grew up in Ballina and Byron Bay and now I'm in Sydney at boarding school doing Year 8 St Scholastica College in Glebe."
Kayamara said she came to love kicking and marking a Sherrin after trying some other sports.
"None of my family follow AFL so they were a bit surprised, but said to give it go," she said.
"I tried a lot of sports - hockey, soccer, league and touch -and stopped at AFL when I realised 'yes, this is my game'. I enjoy it a lot more."
Despite the NSW/ACT going down to Western Australia on Wednesday, Kayamra remains positive about the event.
"We made Queensland fight for the ball," she said.
Now the youngster who follows Greater Western Sydney, is looking to keep playing as the highest level she can.
"I'm the shortest player and I think one of the speediest," she said with a smile.
"I reckon it would be good and I'd be pretty lucky to have a career in AFL so I'm just enjoying playing at the moment."
The All Nations and Kickstart teams consist of girls aged between 13-15 years who made the championships following a rigorous selection process.
As well as having to impress the selectors at the high performance testing, skills sessions and a practice match, the players were also chosen because of their leadership and sportsmanship.
The 2017 Female Diversity Championships are on in Byron Bay from October 9-13.
As with the Male Diversity Championships held in Sydney in April, the event will see girls from multicultural and Indigenous backgrounds from each state coming together for a week long round-robin AFL tournament.
AFL NSW/ACT Multicultural Programs Manager, Nickie Flambouras said she was thrilled with the amount of players who attended the testing day.
"We had a large amount of girls from Sydney come to test, which speaks volumes on the growth of AFL in the region," Flambouras said.
"We are excited to be able to provide this opportunity to a new set of AFL players and fans, and we look forward to seeing more women from new and emerging communities participating in our talent programs. As a state body of the AFL, we are really excited to see what these girls can do on the national stage, and can't wait to arrive in Byron Bay."
AFL NSW/ACT Indigenous Programs Manager, Charlee-Sue Frail is also excited by the Kickstart side's chances at the Championships.
"Being able to fly in girls from across the state and territory, to compete against other states is extremely exciting for them, and for us," said Frail.
"Since the start of the AFL Women's competition, the girls are excited by the prospect of being professional footballers, and they can't wait to step onto the field in Byron Bay."
Frail said the Diversity Championships are a great opportunity to support the playing and leadership skills of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
"The Championships are all about empowering our young women to reach their potential, both on and off the field of field," Frail said.
"Throughout the week, the young women will participate in lunchtime education sessions, group activities on teamwork and confidence building, and will have the opportunity to learn from three incredible coaches.
The 2017 Female Diversity Championships began with the official opening ceremony in Byron Bay and with matches kicked off on Tuesday at Caringbah Oval and finish tomorrow.