Cairns Girls Power To A Greater Victory
Sunday, July 12 2015 @ 08:56 am ACST
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
It’s half time at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns. The Gold Coast Suns have jumped out of the blocks quite brilliantly and raced away to a handy 18 point lead. The local crowd is delighted, apart from the many thousand Bulldogs fans who dream of an alternative universe at that time.
With the stadium lights already on and blazing, many of the crowd slink off to the nearest food or drink outlet for a feed. It’s very hard work being a supporter, and we need constant replenishing of energy.
The siren has sounded for half time and the fatigued Suns and Bulldogs players head up the race for their rest and a chat or two from their coaches. As soon as they are off the field a swarm of Auskick kids arrives like locusts, spreading to all parts of the field. As with all AFL matches, the four pockets are home to local juniors getting their time in the sun (or in this case multi-million dollar stadium lighting) wearing their red or black NAB jerseys.
But front and centre, in the feature field located in the centre square, is the Auskick match between two local teams with a history. It is a girl’s match between the Gordonvale State School and the Freshwater State School. They are two schools that have worked hard over recent years to build the platform for a strong junior girl’s local competition. The girls that play in these teams often go on to local junior clubs.
The girls from “Freshy” are in the catchment area of a number of local clubs including the Centrals-Trinity Beach Bulldogs, Cairns City Lions and inner suburban clubs like the North Cairns Tigers, Cairns Hawks, Cairns Saints and possibly even the South Cairns Cutters.
The “Gordy” girls, from the sugar town of Gordonvale, 25 kilometres south of Cairns tend to play with local club, Pyramid Power. This is a club which has pushed the boundaries in many areas since their inception in 2005, but they do have one very unique team. They have a stand-alone girls team playing in the local Under 13’s competition, playing the “boys” teams each week – the Pyramid Waragnu (the word is from the local aboriginal dialect meaning female/woman). The Gordonvale girls have a very handy footy pathway to follow.
For fifteen glorious minutes the girls are locked in battle with the ball flinging from end to end. Both teams score a goal. At the end the girls race off the field to the applause of the local crowd. They have had their “15 minutes of fame” and it’s now all over. Or is it?
That opportunity to play the half time match at an AFL premiership fixture in Cairns has just been 15 minutes of the greatest local exposure and publicity for the game in the city of Cairns. Not just for the further development of the girl’s game, but for junior footy across the board. Local girls racing across the Cazalys turf, resplendent in their Gold Coast Suns and Western Bulldogs jumpers and outfits, promoting to all future generations that maybe, one day, this could be you.
Those girls may not yet realise it, but for fifteen minutes they did the AFL an enormous service. Whilst it was an honour for all of the girls be given such an opportunity, they have paid their debt in full with a display that will inspire girls and juniors next year, and the year after and the year after.
The city of Cairns, the local AFL, the council, sponsors, the business community, have not worked so hard to get these premiership games to Cairns as one-off bouts of entertainment. There is a longer term sustainability attached to it. For Cairns as a whole the spending of visitors boosts our local economy. For AFL Cairns there is the chance to promote the game in the best possible way for future numbers. But it was those girls, and the boys as well, who were the living, breathing embodiment of that promotion which started in board rooms and spilled out onto a playing field under lights.
And it was reward for effort also. The two schools play each other each year for the Freshwater Challenge Women In AFL shield. The games are held at the back oval of Freshwater State School and the Gordonvale girls travel there by bus. They have also played off in all recent Gold Coast Suns Cup carnivals with both having won and travelled to play off for the North Queensland Championships in Townsville.
The tradition of Australian Rules football is ingrained into both schools, especially now with the girls. The chance to play in such a special half time match is a great way for their local communities to say thank you for their efforts to put girls footy on the map.
At the end of their match the girls ran off the field smiling, giggling, high-fiving and having a wonderful time. Their job was done.
Then the Gold Coast Suns teased for another quarter to hold a three-quarter time lead of 26 points over the Western Bulldogs before the Dogs unleashed a 10 goal last quarter onslaught to run over the top of the Suns.
Stirring stuff from the Bulldogs, but not nearly as exciting as the half time entertainment.