Aussie Rules has long been the sport of Aboriginal Australia. But women’s place has been on the sidelines, cheering men along at local games.

Now, East Arnhem Land women have set up a competition with teams from local Aboriginal communities because they want to be involved in the action.

aboriginal women kicking football goals
Photo: article supplied

“Footy is awesome, it’s an awesome support … we’re as good as the men, even better,” Yirrkala teenager Mikayla Mununggurr said.

Whitney Yunupingu’s whole family plays football and she grew up with the sport around her in Nhulunbuy.

“My dad used to play AFL, my mum plays, my brother plays, it goes through my family,” she said.

Scores of young women from the region gather on the Yirrkala football field every Thursday night and play ‘scratch matches’, and will start an official competition this month.

“There’s always been an interest among women and the majority of the supporters who come down to watch footy are women,” coordinator Araluen Maymaru said.

Four teams from Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala and Ski Beach are playing in the competition.

“We’re making new friends, getting to know people you don’t usually talk to or see around, being able to communicate with people who aren’t as open, so as girls we can have an AFL family,” Mununggurr said.

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