Djarrak Football Club created history by winning the first Gove AFL Women's game as a by-product of beating a plucky Gopu Football Club in an entertaining encounter at Yirrkala Oval on opening night for the competition by 6.7 43 - 4.4 28. The late game saw Nhulunbuy Saints Football Club beat Nguykal Football Club in a thriller by 5.7 37 - 5.5 35. Formerly womens football on the Gove Peninsula has been contested between the Eagles and Lions teams and female players drove the initiative to joins the mens clubs in order to build a more meaningful competition. Volunteers from the previous womens product can be proud of the growth this year.
Kim Meighan from Nhulunbuy Saints FC has been highly involved on the journey to womens footballers joining current teams . When asked how the women's football movement was started she said "Vernon Patullo and Richard Seden started women's football around 5 years ago and through that time Hamish Simpson has also given a great contribution of his time and effort. I've had a chance to work with all three of these volunteers and it has been a lot of hard work. She added "During last years Cyclone Carnival we realised there was a lot of interest and we thought we could have a successful competition. We formed a committee and we are now GAFL Womens in our own right".
Round 1 games were played on a slightly smaller oval and teams consisted of 12 players. The action was hard and fast and the level of commitment shown by the players was unquestioned with a physical battle around the stoppages giving first gamers a tough initiation to the game.
The Djarrak FC and Gopu FC game was an even affair till late in the last quarter when the Yirrkala based side was able to kick back to back goals and make use of the strong wind blowing down the ground. Djarrak FC was best served by live-wire forward Bunganga Yunupingu, the gutsy Kaya Mununggurr and youngster Mikayla Mununggurr who will have a bright future in the game if she keeps working hard. Gopu FC players that stood out were Whitney and Roberta Mununggurritj and defender Rebecca Dunn who had quality night repelling various entries into the defensive zone.
Djarrak FC Women's Coach Corey Atkinson was elated when asked how he found the first hit out for GAFL Women's action. He said "It was fantastic. The girls did all that I asked when they got out there and the main thing was they had bit of fun". When asked to respond on the comeback in the last quarter he remarked "The pressure in that last quarter was awesome.The tackling was right up and thats what I asked the girls to do. Because we had the pressure around the ball we forced some simple mistakes which we were able to run with".
The Nguykal FC and Nhulunbuy Saints FC game was decided late with both sides trading blows throughout the match. Saints trailed by three goals going into the final quarter and the fightback shown by the Nhulunbuy side was first class. Budat Mununggurr scored a fine individual goal to wrest momentum back to the Saints.
Meighan highlighted the team effort of the Nhulunbuy Saints in the victory but paid special mention to the sides spine and go to players. She said "Kelsey O'Reilly was massive for us throughout the middle and was complemented by Melissa Henare working on the outside from Centre/Wing. Melvelna Wanambi was class from Centre-Halfback and Whitney Yunupingu provided a dangerous target for us up forward".
Nguykal FC Womens player and official Jess Taylor highlighted the work of outstanding midfielders Bundatja Gumana and Lowena Mununggurritj for their work rate in the late fixture. She said " Bundatja and Lowena were great through the middle and won a lot of ball for us. She added "The girls played really well as a team in a really tight game. There is an even spread of talent across all four teams which makes for a exciting competition".
If the closeness of both games is an indication for the rest of the season then football supporters will definitely be marking down Thursday nights in their calendars to view the action.
The Gove AFL Womens competition has had Territory Coverage courtesy of ABC Darwin including a video on their Facebook platform with an associated print article linked to the post this week. Djarrak FC Women's Manager Araluen Maymuru featured extensively and was interviewed live on ABC Radio yesterday just hours before before the first bounce in GAFL Womens.
Please follow to story: https://www.facebook.com/ABCDarwin/videos/10155579697199873/
Djarrak FC Women's are sponsored by Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation and Bunuwal Fuel.