By Grant Hitzman
84 talented female footballers from seven states and territories gathered this week at the Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex in Burpengary for the second annual 2014 Female KickStart Championships.
Bringing together some of the best Indigenous talent from across the nation, the championships have not only celebrated the girls football prowess, but taken the opportunity to educate and inspire the female youth to become leaders among their peers and community through the Deadly Choices program.
Established in 2009, the Deadly Choices program aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to make healthy choices for themselves and their family.
Leadership, well-being, school attendance and a healthy lifestyle are just a few of the lessons the girls have participated in through a Deadly Choices education session this past week.
17-year old Queensland representative, Klarindah Hudson, said the four hour education session on Wednesday taught her about a plethora of lifestyle choices, specifically the importance of being healthy.
“There was a lot of variety in the education session and I got the chance to learn about what makes a good leader, how to use social media and how to be and stay healthy,” Hudson said.
“I think one of the biggest things that stood out to me was that tobacco actually kills more than drugs and alcohol and how much sugar is in a lot of food.
“My aunties and some of my family smoke so that session showed me why I should encourage them to stop because it is so unhealthy.”
Hudson also learnt valuable information about leadership and how to become a person that others look up to on and off the football field.
“Deadly Choices really stressed that being a leader is about the small things, like keep encouraging each other and keep your head up,” Hudson said.
“I think that message applies to when we play AFL or when we are at school or home, be a good sport and be positive and people will follow you.”
This is the first year that Deadly Choices have been involved in the female KickStart championships, and AFL Queensland Female Programs Coordinator, Breanna Brock, says the program has been a breath of fresh air.
“Deadly Choices have been really supportive, done all the right things and clearly understand their market,” Brock said.
“We (AFL Queensland) are always looking to break into new indigenous communities and working with a really respected organisation like Deadly Choices has given us that opportunity.
Brock also stressed that the Deadly Choices message, approach and engagement with AFL Queensland and the girls is exactly what a unique carnival like KickStart was looking for.
“Unlike other carnivals like the Female National Championships, KickStart is more about being a great person and learning about health and respecting yourself and others,” Brock said.
“Having Deadly Choices on board to help spread the message of dangers to drugs and smoking and highlighting the importance of good health has been invaluable.”
While the KickStart championships will come to a close at the end of this week, Brock is hopeful that AFLQ will continue their relationship with Deadly Choices in the future to engage indigenous communities.
“Deadly Choices hit the nail on the head this week in all aspects and completely exceeded our expectations,” Brock said.
“Working with Deadly Choices again in the future would help AFL Queensland engage more indigenous communities and teach them about good well-being and prevent a pathway to a dangerous lifestyle.”
The KickStart championships will wrap up tomorrow with Western Australia to take on the Northern Territory in the Grand Final.