Indigenous football talent on show in the Top End

The Northern Territory Yapas women's indigenous football team in action during a Darwin Women's Premier League clash. Source: Getty Images

The Northern Territory’s best Indigenous male and female players will show why the Top End could be the next great pipeline of Aussie talent on Wednesday as part of a special NAIDOC week football showcase.

The Indigenous women’s side - NT Yapas - will play, followed by the Indigenous men’s side - NT Wha Whas - as part of a double header, taking on Darwin select teams at Larrakia Park in Darwin. 

Both matches will be live streamed via The World Game website, app and SBS On Demand from 6:30 pm (AEST) on Wednesday, July 15.

The games will help mark NAIDOC week which celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders while acknowledging the culture of Australia’s First Nations people. 

Indigenous football advocate and FNT Indigenous Football Development Advisory Committee member Bobby Wright says the games will showcase the importance of implementing pathways for talented Indigenous players to help prevent them being lost to other sports.

“Up until the age of 14 most Indigenous kids will play football but then they go and play AFL because they have opportunities to take their game to the highest level which aren’t there in soccer,” Wright said.

“Many Aboriginal kids who have gone on to successful professional careers in other sports were first great football players.

“What we are trying to do now is to give them the option of sticking with football by providing those pathways so players can fulfil their potential in our game.”

This season the Yapas team became the first Indigenous women’s team to play in an Australian first division competition after they were added to the Darwin Women’s Premier League.

While their maiden season in the NT top flight has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, it has only helped in bringing the Yapas squad closer together.

Wright, who co-coaches the men’s Wha Whas team, says while preparation time for their clash against Darwin Select has been limited, he is expecting big things from the side.

“We have had players come to Darwin from all around the NT and Australia to join the Wha Whas squad for this match,” he said.

“The players have all said they feel a sense of support and belonging being a part of the Wha Whas team with the team meaning more to them than just sport.”

Wright said fans tuning in to catch the match can expect to see two matches of exciting football with the Yapas and Wha Whas.

“There is a lot of raw talent in these two sides and these players can turn a match with a moment of brilliance or two, he said.”

“It will be a great showcase of the Indigenous talent here in the NT as well a chance for the football community to celebrate NAIDOC week.”