Sporting stars assemble for Nations of Origin

More than 1500 young sporting stars travelled from across the state to compete in the PCYC Nations of Origin competition. Olivia Grey reports.

Two girls wearing colourful uniforms. Two girls wearing colourful uniforms.
Image: Lighting Ridge Central School Year 10 students Mattie and Quenisha competed for Team Gamilaraay.

Darug land in Western Sydney was abuzz as almost 1500 up and coming sporting stars competed in the PCYC Nations of Origin last week.

Students from across the state travelled to play against each other in rugby league, basketball, Football 5s, netball and gymnastics.

The Nations of Origin tournament encourages and embraces reconciliation, cultural identity and education through sport.

It empowers Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to celebrate Aboriginal culture.

Lighting Ridge Central School Year 10 students Quenisha and Mattie competed for Team Gamilaraay in the under 16s rugby league competition and were excited to take part, even if it meant a nine-hour bus trip.

“For us, it’s about having fun, meeting people from other nations and showing that girls are really, really good at footy,” they said.

“It’s pretty isolated in The Ridge, so to be able to connect with different people from across the state is super exciting.”

Students participating in Nations of Origin must maintain an 80 per cent average attendance rate and ensure they behave well at school.

“It does give us more of an incentive to make sure we’re at school every day. Sport is a huge part of our lives, and if we don’t go to school, we don’t get to be part of things like this,” Quenisha and Mattie said.

The My Future, My Culture, My Way team, alongside Careers NSW, were thrilled with the opportunity to connect with Aboriginal students, families and carers to discuss education and career opportunities.

“It’s a privilege and an honour to be part of these community events. Reconnecting back to community is key in the work that we do,” Relieving Director, Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships, Des Crawford said.

“It’s really important for us to be able to share different pathway options and support students, parents and carers in navigating through school.”

PCYC NSW chief executive Dominic Teakle said earning the right to represent your nation through sport was a powerful tool for social change and inclusion.

“Rewarding hard work gives young people something to aim for. Providing them the opportunity to represent their nation provides them with a place to belong and connect with culture” he said.

Nations of Origin is an annual event run by the PCYC. To get involved, contact your local PCYC club.

People standing under a tent in front of a table full of merchandise. People standing under a tent in front of a table full of merchandise.
Image: The My Future, My Culture, My Way team at Nations of Origin.
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