Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023


Far North Queensland Pearls, Challenge of the Nations Netball Tournament, African Cup of Nations

7:59 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to speak about three wonderful sporting events that occurred recently in my home state of Queensland. They were more than just sporting events; they were events that lifted up young people and gave young people outstanding opportunities to make the most of their potential. I want to speak about these events and I want to specially recognise all of the volunteers who made these three wonderful events happen. I note that the third event I'm going to speak to is still in progress, so there's still an opportunity for Queenslanders to visit the third event.

In the first instance I want to talk about the Far North Queensland Pearls, an under-17s young women's rugby league team. This under-17s young women's rugby league team recently participated in the Arthur Beetson Foundation and Deadly Choices Murri Carnival held in Redcliffe, Queensland. They performed outstandingly. Senator McGrath, my colleague who is here, knows the distance between Cairns and Brisbane because he has travelled it many times. Notwithstanding the fact that they had to travel by bus for 27 hours to get to this rugby league tournament, they performed magnificently. They performed so well that five of the players were actually recognised by being selected for the Queensland under-17s Indigenous women's rugby league team. Those five players are: fullback Denisha Chilman-Gibuma, centre Aneice Mitchell, hooker and dummy half Loti Sagigi, second rower Wazana Thaiday and front rower Rashae King.

I also give a special shout-out to their coach, Benjamin Mitchell, and his wife, Aunty Marcia Mitchell. Not only was Ben the coach; he and his wife got their bus licences so that they could drive the teams down by bus from Cairns to the football tournament. How good is that? Ben said about these fantastic young women:

These remarkable young women have overcome challenges and worked diligently to reach this point in their sporting careers. The opportunity to play for the FNQ Pearls and now represent QLD is a dream come true for them, and they are genuinely excited and grateful for this incredible opportunity.

I also recognise Grandad Robert and Grandma Gloria Ware, who provided invaluable pastoral care and cultural support. Finally, I recognise that not only did Uncle Ben Mitchell drive the bus and coach the team but also he has been selected to be the coach of the Queensland team. Well done, Benjamin Mitchell. You're an absolute inspiration.

The second event I want to talk about is the Challenge of the Nations Netball Tournament. I was very fortunate on Saturday to spend some time at this netball tournament and watch some of the amazing games. At this netball tournament nine nations were represented in their wonderful colours and their beautiful smiles over two weekends. There were teams representing Indigenous Australia, Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Cook Islands, Fiji, PNG, Maoris and Tahiti. In all, 102 teams were represented, with 968 players. I give a special shout-out to the president of the host organisation, Pare Kae, and also to the wonderful events manager, Jean Teamoke-Teao, who is just a wonderful lady. She does such a great job running this tournament.

Finally, I note that in 2024 it will be the 10th anniversary of this amazing tournament. I look forward to attending this great event next year. Apparently a lot of past players are going to come along and either participate or spectate and give their support to the event. I note this year it was held in Ipswich. I give a special shout-out to Nicole Virtue, President of the Ipswich Netball Association, and her team for being such wonderful hosts. I think this tournament has found a new home. I look forward to supporting it well into the future.

The third event is the African Cup of Nations. This football event is still occurring. Last weekend was the second weekend. The semifinals, followed by the grand finals, will be on the weekend coming. This event is convened by the Queensland African Communities Council. I give a special callout to those teams and coaches who have made the semifinals, and I congratulate them all.

The female teams and coaches are: Sudan, under the teaching of Makoi Makuel; South Sudan under Mabor Mabor; the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Gad Simba Leon Nunda; and Liberia under Sheik Abdul Bah. Again, excuse me for my pronunciation. The male teams and coaches are: Burundi, under the wonderful coaching of Mossi Jaffary; South Sudan under Denis Bosco; the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Kado Aoci; and Somalia under Asad Hassan. I had an opportunity to give a pre-match inspirational talk to the Congolese team before they took the field, and I did my best to inspire them, mainly by reference to their wonderful coach, Kado, who is a fantastic young Australian and an outstanding football player in his own right. He's such a great mentor to the young Australian-Congolese members of this team. He's a real inspiration—I can't speak highly enough of Kado. I did promise that if they won the match, for which I gave them an inspirational talk, I would give them a special callout. They did win the match. I said I'd also give a callout to the best player on the side in that match, and Patient Lungwe was the best player in that match. A special callout to you, Patient. We're expecting this Australian-Congolese team to do really well next weekend.

This year, this football tournament is being hosted by a wonderful community sporting organisation in my home state of Queensland, located in Goodna in the greater Ipswich region, where my office is located—the Western Spirit Football Club. I congratulate the Western Spirit Football Club for taking this on. From the time I spent at the tournament, and from what I have heard, it is going incredibly well. Thousands of people attend these matches. It is so incredibly popular. You can host such an event only with the support of a wonderful group of volunteers. To really underline the fact that I really admire the Western Spirit Football Club for hosting this event—hopefully, as is the case with the Challenge of the Nations Netball event, this will be a long-term relationship and we will see the tournament there for many years to come.

I want to give a special shoutout to the volunteers from the Western Spirit Football Club—again, excuse my pronunciation. These were the volunteers, I have been informed by the club, who have given invaluable support to the tournament: Adrian 'AJ' Varkeviseer, Malindi Varkeviseer, Douglas 'Wingy' Gooding, Mark Owen, Chris Owen, Terry Wratten, Michael Mason, Louise Mason, Emily Mason—the whole Mason family was there—Ben Portsmouth, Joel Lloyd Jones, Michelle Fyfe, Chris Fyfe, Evelyn Walsh, Trevor Walsh—you can see this club is a real family affair—Nash Blackmore, Laura Lemmon, Scott Lemon, Francis Zapata, Brad Freeman, Michael Augustin, Lachlan Augustin, Colin Manning, Isabel Walsh, Sia Keomoungkhoun and Jeanie Augustin. I think I covered everyone there—26 volunteers. Congratulations to the Western Spirit Football Club, a great community sporting organisation located in Goodna that deserves 100 per cent support.

Congratulations to all the participants in these three wonderful events, and a special thank you to the coaches, mentors and all the wonderful volunteers who are organising not just sporting events but opportunities to lift young people up so they can fulfil their potential and have the opportunity to engage in these wonderful events.


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