Cobar Junior Soccer Club players joined forces with Nyngan members to represent the Western Plains Amateur Soccer Association (WPASA) at the Nations of Origin ‘Football Fives’ competition in Lake Macquarie last Tuesday.
The carnival was run by PCYC (Police Citizens Youth Clubs) and Football NSW and was aimed at increasing reconciliation, education, and cultural identity through sport.
The WPASA team represented the northern Wiradjuri Nation and consisted of four players from Cobar; Will Griffiths, Ben Griffiths, Ben Anderson and Samuel Piper and two from Nyngan; Tim Walsh and Callum Decelis.
The tournament was a very colourful event with each of the 16 teams wearing a uniform reflecting the totems of their nation’s country.
The northern Wiradjuri people have recognised the goanna as one of their main totems and the WPASA team were called the “Guugas”.
The carnival was opened with a smoking ceremony performed by the Hunter Performing Arts along with Bill Smith, one of their local Elders.
The five-a-side games were played on small fields with synthetic surfaces and all sidelines were solid walls which the ball could bounce off, so the games were very fast.
The WPASA players had no experience on this sort of field but quickly picked up the game and showed impressive ball skills, speed and agility.
The team had good control of the ball and worked very well together allowing them to win their first two games (7-1, 4-3) and draw the third (2-2).
This placed the Guugas at the top of their pool after the first three rounds and qualified them for the semi-finals.
Following the lunch break, the Guugas played the first semi-final against the Tharawal Nation but unfortunately the WPASA team had lost their rhythm and struggled in this match, suffering their first loss and were knocked out of the tournament.
Nevertheless the players finished the day in good spirits placing within the top eight teams in the competition and having represented the western area with pride.—contributed