Aboriginal footballers celebrate 10th anniversary

CELEBRATION: Link Simpson, left, Chelsea Geisler, Michelle Power, holding cousin Keesha Sherry, Chris Flavel, Emma Pendry and Andrew Smith celebrate the 10-year milestone.
CELEBRATION: Link Simpson, left, Chelsea Geisler, Michelle Power, holding cousin Keesha Sherry, Chris Flavel, Emma Pendry and Andrew Smith celebrate the 10-year milestone.

A decade of great memories was celebrated at John Pirie Secondary School.

HISTORY: South Australia’s AFL Secondary School Ambassador of the Year Matt Gale, front, left, helped the girls team to victory in the 2009 cup premiership.

HISTORY: South Australia’s AFL Secondary School Ambassador of the Year Matt Gale, front, left, helped the girls team to victory in the 2009 cup premiership.

The milestone was achieved by the campus after being the first country school to join the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy.

A feature of the academy is the Power Cup, a much-coveted competition involving indigenous students from Port Pirie and schools around the state.

Emma Pendry, a counsellor at the campus, played a role in setting up the academy locally in 2008.

She and Aboriginal education co-ordinator Chris Flavel and state manager of the academy Andrew Smith joined students and other leaders for a reunion celebration and sausage sizzle at the school to mark the occasion.

Chelsea Geisler, 15, played in the latest Power Cup as a defender.

Despite not making it to the finals, she remains enthusiastic about the experience.

“I love footy so it was pretty good and I got to see all the other schools and their skills,” she said.

“My brothers taught me how to play football when was young.”

Mr Smith said the students learned about their culture and combined to achieve a common goal such as the cup or winning team events. “It is all about working together as a team so you can learn about yourself as a group and individual,” he said.

Mr Smith played for Gepps Cross in the SA Football Association division two, achieving a premiership. “I gave up at 28 and I am please that I did because my knees and hips still work and I had no broken bones except my nose and jaw,” he said.

Student Michelle Power played in the cup, saying it was a “good experience”. “I had not played footy before that. My Dad Micheal taught me,” she said.

Emma Pendry said it was “exciting” to reach the milestone. “It is so good for the kids here,” she said.

“The plan was not to have it long-term, but you never know how things will work out,” she said.

The plan was not to have it long-term, but you never know how things will work out.

Emma Pendry

“It has been brilliant. The girls’ team made the grand final at Football Park in 2008 and were premiers in 2009.

“One of the premiership team members Samantha Laurence is now a school services officer at the campus.”

South Australia’s AFL Secondary School Ambassador of the Year Matt Gale, helped the girls team to victory in the 2009 cup premiership.

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