Worimi woman, Casey Manton has only been playing football for four years, however, is making a big difference in introducing and supporting Indigenous culture into the game as the first Indigenous Support Officer for Hunter Valley Football club, Metford Cobras FC.
Casey was introduced to playing the sport when local Metford women’s team was short players and she joined the team with her 17-year-old daughter, Jaimi-lee.
Football wasn’t entirely new to her, having two sisters who played and having looked up to her sister Tia who has played all her life as well as Westfield Matilda, Kyah Simon who was the first Indigenous footballer (male or female) to score a goal for Australia in a World Cup.
“I hadn’t played much sport growing up, so I’ve found it increasingly important to provide my kids with opportunities to participate in sport.”
Being the first Indigenous Support Officer at Metford Cobras provides Casey the opportunity to draw awareness of Indigenous culture to the club and to be a voice for Indigenous players.
“More voices need to be speaking out and celebrating Indigenous athletes; by appointing the role of Indigenous Support Officer the club is showing that Indigenous culture is supported and wanted in football.
“It’s not just about football, it’s about greater overall community connection and education, equality in football is a stepping-stone towards community harmony.
In Season 2021, Casey says she looks forward to being a leader to the younger Indigenous kids and offering support and advice to them.
“I really want to be approachable and connect with the kids.”
Casey and the club have already found new opportunities in developing Indigenous culture.
They’re in the midst of creating an Acknowledgement of Country plaque to display at the ground and Casey and her sister Tia are developing new t-shirts with Indigenous artwork including an Eagle to represent Kawal the wedgetail eagle that watches over the Wonnarua peoples for their woman’s team.
When asked about what this year’s NAIDOC Week Theme “Always Was, Always Will Be” meant to her, Casey responded:
“Always was, always will be means the spiritual, emotional and physical connection my culture has to land for thousands of generations.
“There will always be connection between people and land, you look after country and she looks after you, always was, always will be Indigenous land.”
Casey looks forward to football growing the number of Indigenous Support Officers within clubs and hopes that Metford Cobras having taken the step, will inspire other football clubs to get on board and do the same.
“It’s important to have someone that Indigenous players can go to, who they connect with and who are also Indigenous,” concluded Casey.