They may be going under a different name, but the Brisbane Warrigals will still have a target on their backs as they look to defend their title at the 2017 Indigenous Football Championships next month.
After taking out the title at last year’s inaugural tournament, while named the South East Queensland Dingoes, the Warrigals will take a similar squad to Nowra for the event from November 1-4.
“Most of our guys are from around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, but we have some players coming from Townsville and even Sydney and Melbourne to trial for the team,” association’s president and former international player Ramone Close said.
“We’ve got plenty of Indigenous tribes represented, including Bundjalung, Darambul, Eora, Goenpul, Jagera, Mandandanji, Noonuccal, Turrbal and Undumbi.”
The Dingoes defeated Sydney’s Eora 2-1 in the grand final last year, and Close is confident his side can make it two in a row.
“Training has been sharp and our warm-up matches have shown that we’ve improved on last year and have what it takes,” he said.
“We are honoured to have the chance to defend our title, and to continue to lead by example and set the benchmark for Indigenous football in Australia.”
“I think the standard of football will be better this year being the second time around, and there is a nice pot of $10,000 up for grabs for the winners.
“The teams really lift and put in everything they can to make their communities proud and be positive ambassadors of their culture.”
Based on the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Indigenous Football Development Strategy, the event will focus on creating career pathways for players and coaches, as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle through sport.
“The team and the tournament have helped empower the lads by being around other Indigenous players in the sport that they love,” Close said.
“Indigenous football is only really taking off, and I see the future bringing many more opportunities to break down social and lifestyle barriers through the beautiful game.”
The road to this year’s tournament has been somewhat smoother than 2016, when the Dingoes had to cover their own transport and accommodation costs, among other logistical and financial hurdles which were overcome before competing.
“The support we’ve received from the Indigenous community and wider football community has been amazing and very heart-warming,” Close said.
“Like last year, Football Brisbane have been huge advocates and have helped us out a lot financially.
“We’re also forever grateful to our patron, Member for Morayfield Mark Ryan, who has been very supportive from the start and helped us to connect with the right departments and programs for Queensland Government funding.
“We’d like to thank the Landsborough Pub, Gorilla Sport, Yourtown, John Auld from Rapidline, all the people in our community who purchased raffle tickets, and other organisations who have been so very supportive.
“This kind of support gives us so much confidence and strength to keep doing what we’re doing.”