Indigenous communities from across Australia will today converge on Brisbane Roar's Logan city training base for the first Australian Indigenous Football Championships.
The 26-team football festival today goes on for three days and will include 60-70 Indigenous Nations, from areas like Cape York, Grafton, Mt Isa, Newcastle, Nowra, Taree, Townsville, Tamworth, Tweed Heads and the Northern Territory.
The Johnny Warren Football Foundation is also supporting the tournament with a Reconciliation match between the Indigenous community led by former Socceroo Craig Foster against Queensland Police.
Lawrence Gilbert has been involved in previous Indigenous Championships and says this will the largest of its kind.
“We know that Indigenous football has doubled in terms of size and participation over the last couple of years,” he told FTBL. “More Indigenous people are playing the game because of the tournament.
“We are engaging with the community and doing football clinics with Goori Football Program.
“We have Indigenous footballers already playing in NPL 1 and NPL 2 or some level of State League or Premier League and they will be part of this tournament.
“The Indigenous and Torres Straight Island community is very spread out across Brisbane so we could gauge from 5000-10,000 people attending the tournament and it could be anything on Saturday for the finals.”
The AIFC opens up pathways for young Indigenous talent, and at its conclusion, men’s and women’s representative teams will be announced to participate at next year’s Arafura Games.
“Football Qld and Football Brisbane are assisting with the selection of the Indigenous Roos and the Indigenous Koalas,” Gilbert revealed.
“The men’s competition will be very tough and so will the women’s competition so we expect to draw on some very good talent to go and represent their country.”