Triumph for northern NSW players at 2023 First Nations Football Festival

Success and smiles were all around at the 2023 First Nations Football Festival held in Nowra last weekend.

This year, northern NSW was the most represented region at the annual event with 10 teams travelling down to participate. 

The tournament was a memorable experience for hundreds of players, coaches, referees, administrators and spectators celebrating the Indigenous football community. 

The Newcastle All Stars stood out with success stemming across all competitions with players in the team from all over the northern NSW area. 

In the under-14s girls, Newcastle All Stars Red reached the semi-final with Newcastle All Stars Black taking out the competition. 

All three of Newcastle’s under-14s boys teams made the semi-finals, with a Newcastle v Newcastle grand final match up with Newcastle All Stars Red crowned as champions. 

In the open women’s competition, one Newcastle side reached the quarter-finals, with the other team making it to the semi-finals before bowing out. 

The three open men's teams also had a good tournament with the Newcastle All Stars Yellow side reaching the quarter-finals and the Newcastle All Stars Red team going back-to-back in winning the tournament two years in a row. 

Newcastle All Stars coach Mick Hugo said the tournament was a great opportunity for Indigenous footballers.

“This tournament allows for indigenous kids to get out there and show their talent, to meet mob, to showcase their culture and to show non-indigenous people what Indigenous football talent there is in NSW,” Hugo said. 

“2016 was the first year of the competition. We have built up from one men’s team to where we are now. This year we took down three open men’s teams, two open women’s teams, two under-14s girls' and three under-14s boys teams.” 

“We were the biggest participator in the competition and continue to have success each year.” 

Players in the Newcastle All Stars sides come from the Hunter region and all over northern NSW. 

“We do have a lot that come from the Newcastle and Hunter region area but some of our teams come from all over,” Hugo said. 

Hugo hopes that he can continue to help Indigenous players in the northern NSW region to be recognised and progress from grassroots football to elite competitions. 

“For me personally, the more I push and push is to get more Indigenous kids into the Talent Support Program or NPL or the Jets and A-League systems.” 

Anyone who would like to get involved or find out more can contact Mick Hugo via the Newcastle Indigenous Facebook page by sending a message or contact directly via email at