The 2023 NAIDOC Cup kicked off at Valentine Sports Park (Darug country) on Monday. More than 140 players and officials from Northern NSW Football and Football NSW celebrated the opening of the three-day event featuring special guests from the First Nations Community.
Coinciding with NAIDOC Week and this year’s theme of ‘For Our Elders’, the competition has returned for a second year to showcase proud First Nations male and female participants in the under-14s and under-16s age groups.
“The NAIDOC Cup is a wonderful opportunity for our proud and talented First Nations footballers to shine, showcase their talent and represent themselves, their family, their culture and heritage,” Northern NSW Football CEO Peter Haynes said.
The official opening ceremony featured proud Darug woman Tataya Curry-Jones who provided the ‘Welcome to Country’. Tataya was named the female player of the tournament in 2022 as a member of Football NSW’s inaugural NAIDOC Cup squad.
Along with Tataya’s ‘Welcome to Country’, a special cultural performance was displayed by the Gamarada Mob who continued with the opening day celebrations.
The jersey presentations to all teams then proceeded as proud Kanolu/Gangulu woman and former A-League star Allira Toby and equally proud Birpi Socceroos legend Jade North assisted with the formalities.
“We’re taking really big strides in that First Nations [space] and it’s great to see that we’re all moving together as one and it’s great for the young First Nations footballers to come through as well,” North said.
Kamilaroi, Gomeroi, Gamilaraay High School student from Tamworth Phoebe Little designed Northern NSW Football’s jerseys for the competition, while Contemporary Aboriginal artist Nikeeta Haverfield designed Football NSW’s jerseys.
The first round of matches will take place on Tuesday with games kicking off at 10.:30am.
All eight matches will be streamed live on NPL.TV ensuring access to the First Nations sporting event can be enjoyed across Australia and beyond.
The 2023 NAIDOC Cup is supported by the NSW government through the $10 million NSW Football Legacy Program.
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