The Canberra One Mob Indigenous Women’s Football team are set to take part in the 2022 National Indigenous Football Championships, making a return to the tournament they graced in 2018 and 2019 after a two year gap due to Covid.
Since their participation in the competition in 2019, One Mob has become a fully established set-up with its players working together to make it possible to compete once again this year.
For 2022 the group will be named the Rhys Pearcey Memorial Team named after Manager and Founder Tamika Townsend’s late husband who was co-founder of the club.
“Rhys was a huge part of the club and loved by all the girls and a key part of our success in previous years,” Tamika Townsend commented.
“One Mob was able to place third in the tournament in 2018 and fifth in 2019 out of around 20 teams across the country. This was a great outcome since players had not played together before, and the number of training sessions together were limited.”
Participation in the tournament is backed by Capital Football with the governing body providing support for One Mob.
“We are grateful for the support provided by Capital Football which enables participation in this tournament,” Townsend said. “Supporting the team allows us to now focus on training and getting ready for the competition and ensures all people can participate regardless of social or economic status.”
The club has achieved much since its formation. One of the players from One Mob was selected to represent the Australian Indigenous women’s representative squad, due to her skilled performance in the competition, and lined up against the New Zealand Māori in 2018.
Players have also now signed up to football clubs in the local Canberra region due to their positive experience in the One Mob collective.
“These are examples that demonstrate the skill and commitment from the One Mob team, but we do not believe these outcomes are as important as the mentorship and the opportunity to connect with culture that it offers.” Townsend explained.
“The group we have includes women between the ages of 15 to 43. This spread of ages allowed the more experienced women to develop strong bonds with the younger women.
“The relationships built from the experience have since developed and have given each of the women a strong supportive network that they can rely on for happiness, guidance and a hand-up when required.
“Also due to the size of the competition, mobs from different areas all gather and meet. This provides our girls with the opportunity to catch up with family and friends that they haven’t seen in years. Due to this fact, this event is cultural and is like Corroborees that happened before colonisation.”
One 16-year-old woman’s experience, who is cared for by the foster care system, highlights how these experiences can shape a person’s life. She described the soccer competition as ‘the best time of her life’ as Townsend revealed.
“This woman said that ‘it was deadly to be around so many other black people’”, Townsend said.
“It gave her the chance to be herself without shame or fear of judgement. She formed close relationships with three other teammates within her age group and found an Indigenous family who she could visit within Canberra that could remind her of this experience.
“She has also gained a network of strong Indigenous women who she can be supported by and look up to as she navigates her way through life.”
Capital Football wished One Mob the very best of luck in representing the ACT and surrounding region at the 2022 National Indigenous Football Championships.