Benowa, Mountain Creek and Wavell High School and Djarragun College in Cairns will play in the semi-finals of the Northern States Cup at Zillmere Wednesday.

Tuesday, 20 July, 2010

Twenty-one indigenous boys from in and around Cairns will sleep together on mats at Cazaly’s Stadium tonight before setting off on the journey of a lifetime early tomorrow hoping to become the kings of schoolboy football in northern Australia.

The Djarragun College junior AFL team, comprising boys from Year 8 and Year 9, will rise at 4.15am to catch a 6am flight to Brisbane for the regional finals of the Queensland division of the Northern States Cup.

It is another step along a path they hope will see them win the Cup for schoolboy football supremacy in Queensland, New South Wales and Northern Territory.

If they win the Queensland division regional finals at Zillmere in Brisbane against teams from Wavell High in Brisbane, Benowa High on the Gold Coast and Mountain Creek High on the Sunshine Coast they will meet the winner of the Brisbane Lions Cup, the AFL Queensland School of Excellence competition.

The Brisbane Lions Cup has come down to two teams – Palm Beach-Currumbin High School and Narangba High School – who will meet in their final at Coorparoo next Tuesday (27 July).

The Queensland division grand final of the Northern States Cup will be played at the Gabba on 4 August, before the Queensland champions head to Sydney for the overall Northern States Cup finals at Blacktown Stadium on 17-18-19 September.

Coach Dave Maddox-Jones says the trip to Brisbane it will be not only a fantastic football experience but an invaluable life experience for his young charges.

“As many as a third of them have never on a jet before so it’s something they are really looking forward to,” said Maddox-Jones.

“They are tickled pink they’ve got this far and are going down with a really positive mindset looking to make the most of the opportunity.”

It’s not the first overnight stay at Cazaly’s ahead of a busy game day schedule for the Djarragun team.

They had a similar preparation for a bus trip to Townsville in early June to play the northern zone finals.

There, they had a comfortable win over North Mackay High, representing the Mackay region, before coming from behind to beat Abergowrie College from Townsville and qualify for the State finals in Brisbane.

According to Maddox-Jones, the team includes a lot of Torres Strait islanders, with the rest being Aboriginal. About half are boarders at Djarragun, and the other half are living with family members in Cairns.

They hail originally from places like Thursday Island, Badu Island, Saibai Island and Boigu Island, plus Hopevale, Bamaga, Coen, Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama.

 Captain of the team is Henry Mareko from Badu Island.

“It’s a pretty fair little side,” said the coach. “They are very quick and skilful. They are still fairly inexperienced but when they are playing well they run in packs and their awareness of people around them is pretty good.”

Djarragun will play Mountain Creek in the 11.45am second semi-final tomorrow after Benowa and Wavell have played at 10.30am.

The two winners will meet at 1pm to decide the Queensland regional winner of the Northern States Cup.

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