Indigenous pride on the line with women’s ranks booming
INDIGENOUS pride and rugby league prowess were on show in Rockhampton at the weekend.
Close to 40 teams lined up for the eighth annual Indigenous Reconciliation Carnival at the Ian Coombe Oval at CQ University.
About 3000 spectators marvelled at the talents of players from across Queensland and interstate at the three-day event, hosted by Central Queensland Indigenous Development, which kicked off with the juniors' carnival on Friday.
Carnival director Walson Carlos said about 75 games would be played in total, culminating with the men's and women's finals late yesterday afternoon.
"It's been a high level of footy. It's always a good carnival," Carlos said, as the second women's semi-final between the Emu Park Emus and the Harmonys Angels played out on the main field.
"On the Friday, we had 18 teams in the juniors' carnival.
"Over the Saturday and Sunday, we've had 12 men's teams and eight women's teams."
The senior teams were vying for a share of the more than $30,000 prizemoney.
The Emus were locked in a titanic struggle with the Angels, a Sydney-based side.
The winner was set to advance to the final against the Coastal Gummaz, a Torres Strait Islander team.
Carlos said women's rugby league was one of the fastest-growing sports, particularly in Queensland.
"Women's rugby league is really booming at the moment so eight teams is probably one of the biggest women's tournaments in the state," he said.
"Obviously, the indigenous girls love to play footy. They've probably been coming along here for a number of years just supporting and being a part of it, but now they actually get the chance to do it."
In the men's competition, Bunji United (made up of North Queensland and Rockhampton players) were set to face off against the Descendants, a Cairns-based side, in the first semi.
The Ian Munns Memorial side, a Rockhampton-Woorabinda team, was set to play Gladstone United in the second semi.
Rain overnight on Saturday forced the closure of the second field, meaning all of Sunday's games were played on the main field, and the 20-minute halves were shortened to 15.
Carlos said the carnival was about more than just football.
"It's about celebrating indigenous culture in the spirit of reconciliation," he said.