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Women's Aboriginal AFL Academy trip to NZ: Diary Days 6-7

WAAA New Zealand trip: Day 3 - PTV Day 3 of the Womens Aboriginal AFL Academy's trip to New Zealand.

OUR trip is over and we lost our game against the New Zealand Kahu Under 18 representative side but it didn’t matter.

I feel like we won. We made friends, we learned so much and we had an amazing experience.

After a week in New Zealand it all came down to our game against the Kahu.

The day before we played them we had driven for five hours back to Auckland on the bus. Our legs still hurt from hiking for eight hours the day before and we were tired after an early start.

The last thing I wanted to do was train, but it ended up being a good chance to get moving again.

I was a bit nervous going to QBE stadium in Auckland, which is where we were going to play the game. The main stadium is pretty big but it is rectangle-shaped so we were going to play our game on the oval next door.

Before we arrived, we were told we were going to meet the girls we were going to play against.

I was expecting all these big scary girls but they weren’t that big or scary and they were really friendly.

We played a bit of kick and catch and I got to talking with some of the girls including the captain and best player. They were really nice.

The captain, like us, was still learning about the New Zealand and the Maori culture because she was from the Philippines.

The next day we got to have a sleep in, which was brilliant because I think we were all so tired after a long busy week

It was bucketing down with rain and it was cold. I wasn’t looking forward to getting soaked but I was excited about playing the game.

Before the game, our coach Bronwyn (Davey) gave us each a piece of strapping tape to put around our wrist. She asked us to write on it the names of the people who inspire us and who will drive us to succeed.

I wrote down the name of my Aunty Colleen, who I was named after and who passed away not too long ago, and my three sisters’ and Nanna’s names because they are like my backbone, they always look out for me.

Bronwyn and Pauly (Vandenbergh) told us they were proud of us because we had grown so much over the year and they told us not to worry about the score but just to have fun.

We warmed up for a bit and then we lined up just before the first bounce to do our war cry.

The Kahu girls did a version of the Haka and then we did a war cry that we had come up with together during the week.

I was really proud of our war cry and I think it was better than their Haka because we were more intimidating.

I was freezing when the game got underway and the girls were pretty strong and physical.

But that’s part of footy. We ended up losing by 10 points. They were a lot better than I thought they would be. In the training the day before they could barely hit a target with their kicks but they played better in the wet conditions on the day.

After the game we all got together. I swapped my jacket with one of the Kahu girls and some of the others swapped guernseys.

We got changed and went to a post-game function where they announced the best player awards, which were won by Evelyn and Tyarna from our team and two girls from their team including the captain.

Pauly presented AFLNZ with a traditional Aboriginal Piti, which is a wooden carved item used by our ancestors to carry babies, supplies and other things.

I also had a gift to present. Before I came to New Zealand, we had a family get-together and I asked my uncle for something from our culture to give our hosts.

He gave me a framed boomerang which had the design of a goanna eating honey ants on it.

I presented it to the captain and I spoke in front of all the players, coaches and family members about all the things I had taken away from this trip.

I told them their country had given me all sorts of knowledge that I didn’t have before and so I wanted to give them something back.

I was really nervous because I don’t talk much. The teachers say since I have been in the Women’s Aboriginal AFL Academy I have become more confident and I have been speaking more.

Once I got up, it just started flowing. I wasn’t scared at all.

The trip is now over and while I am a bit sad that it is ending, I am really excited to go home and see my family and tell them about everything I have seen and done.

I am just so grateful that I was allowed to be part of the academy and that I was given the opportunity to go to New Zealand.

Before I went on this trip I didn’t even have a birth certificate. Now I can say I have been overseas. I can do anything.

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