The most recent addition to the CONIFA family comes from Oceania – say ‘hello’ to Mariya!
Australian First Nations Mariya, the FA’s full name, represents the indigenous peoples of Australia. The team made its international debut earlier this year in the ‘Clash of Culture’ series, when the Mariya men and women’s sides took on the Aotearoa Football side, representing New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. The men’s side lost 3-2, while the women went down 5-0 to their Kiwi opponents.
Now Mariya are hungry for more international football.
“This membership will give our First Nations peoples an opportunity to showcase their unique abilities and skills at an international level. Our people seem to have a natural ability to excel in football. We are very honoured to become members of CONIFA,” Mariya’s chairman, Bernie McLeod, explains.
Mariya has played a big part in the National Indigenous Football Championship in Shoalhaven, New South Wales, and McLeod hopes the FA can use its CONIFA membership to show its culture to the world.
He continues. “After three years of successfully organising the National Indigenous Football Championships, we thought joining CONIFA would be a unique experience to further discover great talents and become even more competitive. Indigenous footballers have added plenty of excitement and a degree of unpredictability and the ‘X’ factor to this tournament, which makes us deadly!
“By becoming members of CONIFA, our players look forward to representing our people and culture abroad with pride.”
CONIFA’s General Secretary to Asia, Oscar Mussons, has kept an eye on the Mariya team and believes it will be a great addition to CONIFA.
“I got in touch with Bernie and his team a year ago. During this time, I have witnessed and admired the growth and popularity of the National Indigenous Football Championships… When I offered Mariya the opportunity to become members of our CONIFA family, I knew they were more than ready to take it to the next level.”
Exciting times for the Mariya team, as they join fellow Oceania members Kiribati and Tuvalu in CONIFA! Welcome!
Did you know?
The Mariya team begins matches with a ‘Corroboree’, a traditional ceremonial dream time dance, led by the rhythmic tapping of clapping sticks. It depicts the movements of emus and kangaroos.