K rock Football

Indigenous stars in action

Jordy Edwards in action for Belmont Lions. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

INDIGENOUS footballers from across the region will head to Ballarat this weekend for the annual VACSAL Carnival.

Led by newly-appointed Newcomb co-coach Jye Walker, the squad of 25 will play under the Wathaurong banner.

As well former Leopold star Walker, who became the first indigenous player to reach 200 GFL senior games this year, the team also features Belmont Lions brothers Jordy and Lachie Edwards, Drysdale’s Jarrod Love, South Barwon reserves captain Luke Searle and retired Leopold great Adam Bond.

They will play four mini-matches of two 15-minute halves on Saturday with the hope of advancing to Sunday’s finals.

“This is the fifth year we’ve been doing it, and two of the years we were shocking and the other two years we were really competitive,” Walker said.

“Those years, I had seven or eight guys who played competitive footy. I’m hoping this year it’s a different story and we go well and play on Sunday.

“It’s hard to tell how we’ll go until we see the other teams.”

The carnival draws football and netball teams from across the state, and Walker says the weekend is about more than just what happens on the field.

“The main thing for me is getting guys in the age bracket 17-25 involved,” he said.

“They don’t have much knowledge of the (indigenous) community, so if I can get them to get into some support networks, or they may not know much about their culture and they can connect with other people, that’s big for me.”

Walker has worked tirelessly each year to put a team together for the carnival.

“I didn’t know we had more than 20 indigenous players across the three leagues (GFL, GDFL and BFL), so I did a fair bit of digging in the last couple of years and found them,” he said.

“It’s a drug and alcohol-free event, there’s no smoking; it’s about promoting health and wellbeing in indigenous communities.”

© AAP 2019