By Jakob Gisik
Koori Kangaroos coach Ivan Diaz believes an Indigenous Premier League side in Canberra would be a ‘perfect thing to have.’
The Kangaroos made history on Sunday when they became the first all-Indigenous team to play in a Kanga Cup match.
The mixed side was formed by Capital Football, who reached out to the local Ngunnawal community in search of young Indigenous boys and girls that were interested in playing in the Canberra-wide football tournament.
But Coach Diaz, who is a member of Capital Football’s game development staff, hopes the junior Kangaroos side can get the ball rolling towards the development of a senior Indigenous team.
“This is just the first stage – getting the kids in contact with the sport,” Diaz said.
“If they like it, then they will continue and there will be the opportunity for them to join a club later or maybe create an all-Indigenous team.
“[A Premier League team] would be the perfect thing to have, but we are only at the beginning of this, we’ve set the first stone, now we can work from here and continue building this up.”
The Kangaroos opened their tournament against New Zealand side Meadowbank United on the lawns of Old Parliament House on Sunday.
The result didn’t go their way, but Diaz says it’s rewarding just to see the kids playing together on the football field.
“After nearly 30 years of competition, to be able to get these kids together to play at the tournament, is something special,” Diaz said.
“It is difficult to keep the spirit up sometimes because we have conceded a lot of goals, but in general the kids are really enjoying it.”
The formation of the Kangaroos comes at the perfect time, with the Kanga Cup coinciding with NAIDOC week this year.
NAIDOC week celebrates the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people, and aims at giving them a voice in the community.
The Kangaroos will play their last McDonald’s Kanga Cup pool match on Wednesday afternoon, before the semi-finals kick-off on Thursday.