SIXTEEN girls from Aussie Rules programs in NSW and the ACT have been named in national squads representing the best Indigenous and multicultural talent.
The under-16 players from across the country will come together to form the Indigenous side, the Woomeras, and the multicultural team, the Medleys.
The teams will face off in a match in Melbourne on June 5.
Eight NSW/ACT players have been selected for the Woomeras, and eight have been selected for the Medleys.
Each of the 16 players participated in AFL NSW/ACT's Indigenous Youth Girls Leadership Program, which culminated in a three-day camp held in April this year.
Former AFL coach and four-time premiership winner Alastair Clarkson was keen to scout potential Indigenous talent during a recent visit to Lismore.
Clarkson, who is now a community coaching role with the AFL, was a special guest of the Lismore Swans and joined in during a coaching session for juniors and seniors at Hepburn Park, Goonellabah.
The 53-year-old has coached hundreds of playing over the years, including two of the AFL's best Indigenous players in Buddy Franklin and Cyril Rioli.
"We've seen what the indigenous players have done for our game," Clarkson said.
"When I was growing up Syd Jackson was the first indigenous player who captured my imagination.
"Some of them have become icons of the game and they're the single best thing that's happened to Australian Rules Football in the last 50 years.
"NSW has a huge indigenous population and if we can find some boys and girls in this region who want to play our game, then the sport will only continue to prosper because of it."
The camp in April assessed players' leadership ability, footy skills, and fitness.
The standouts have been given the opportunity to play with and against the best rising Indigenous and multicultural talent in the nation.
Mark Leavy, AFL NSW/ACT Diversity Partner, Indigenous, said: "It's wonderful to see so many players from Indigenous and multicultural backgrounds getting the opportunity to join an elite talent pathway."
"Some of these players are just beginning their football journey and there's no doubt programs like this will further improve their abilities on the field and off it."
Selection in the Woomeras and Medleys also sees the players gain access to a national online mentoring program to improve their leadership and footy skills, which will take place from now until December.
Marianna Konidaris, AFL NSW/ACT Diversity Partner, Multicultural, said: "I'm so proud of each of these players who will take their games to the next level through their selection in these teams.
There's a lot of talent among the group and I'm sure it'll be a great experience for all involved."
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