The UNSW Indigenous Nationals team headed down south to Wollongong to compete at the 28th Indigenous Nationals held on Dharawal country at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Spread over four days, this event brought together teams from universities across Australia to compete in basketball, netball, volleyball, and touch football, celebrating Indigenous culture and sporting excellence.

Day 1: Basketball

The games began with basketball, where our team faced a tough lineup. We had a strong start, securing dominant victories over Southern Cross University and beating James Cook University in game 3. However, our journey hit a roadblock in the second game against Australian Catholic University (ACU), who later clinched the gold. In this format, every game is crucial, and the narrow loss to ACU unfortunately meant we missed out on quarter finals.

Day 1 Basketball - Anthony Smith Media

Day 2: Netball

They secured three convincing wins against Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Edith Cowan University (ECU) and Charles Sturt University (CSU). Particularly impressive was the match against ECU, where our defense was so formidable that ECU failed to score after the first quarter. Riding high on these successes, we entered the quarter-finals with a lot of confidence. Yet again, ACU proved to be our nemesis, edging us out of the semi-finals. Although very fatigued this team proved what an incredible mob, they were showing amazing sportsmanship to not only their team but their opponents.

Day 2 Netball - Anthony Smith Media

Day 3: Volleyball

We won all our group matches against ECU, CSU, and the University of Melbourne, reflecting our consistent high-calibre performance in the games. However, the quarter-final match against the University of Queensland (UQ) presented another formidable challenge. UQ, who eventually took home the gold, proved to be a strong opponent, and despite our best efforts, we were narrowly defeated. 

Day 3 Volleyball - Anthony Smith Media

Day 4: Touch Football

The final day saw the competition move outdoors to touch football, played under clear skies on the beautiful UOW campus. Our team excelled in the group stages, winning all three matches against the University of Tasmania, the University of Sydney, and the Australian National University. These victories set a hopeful tone as we moved into the knockout stages. However, in a twist of fate, we faced the University of Newcastle in the semi-finals, who not only won the touch football event but also emerged as the overall champions of the Indigenous Nationals games. 

Day 4 Touch Football - Anthony Smith Media
Day 4 Touch Football - Anthony Smith Media

Reflecting on the four days of intense competition, it’s clear that our students embodied the spirit of the Indigenous Nationals. This event is more than just a sporting competition; it’s a celebration of Indigenous culture, heritage, and community. The camaraderie and sportsmanship displayed by our team were truly commendable.

Special recognition goes to Molly Thomson, a proud Wiradjuri Country girl, who was awarded the BP Scholarship. This scholarship is given to the most promising Indigenous student-athletes to support their academic and athletic endeavours. Molly’s achievement is a testament to her hard work and dedication, and she stands as a role model for aspiring Indigenous athletes.

Molly Thomson accepting her BP Scholarship - Anthony Smith Media

Finishing in 6th place overall, UNSW improved on last year’s 8th place finish, marking significant progress and setting the stage for future success. The team’s efforts this year laid a strong foundation for upcoming competitions, and there’s a palpable sense of excitement as we look forward to next year’s games.

The 28th Indigenous Nationals were not only a display of athletic skill but also a powerful reminder of the importance of celebrating Indigenous identity and fostering cross-university collaboration. UNSW’s participation in this event reflects our commitment to supporting our Indigenous student-athletes and honouring their heritage. Here’s to the amazing journey this year and to the promising future ahead!