Haberecht returns for second Diversity Champs
Fifteen-year-old Wiradjuri girl, Alessia Haberecht says she feels honoured to be representing her Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community at the 2017 Female Diversity Championships, kicking off tonight in Byron Bay.
During the event, the best Indigenous and Multicultural Youth Girls from each state and territory will come together to participate in a week-long, round-robin AFL tournament. Similar to the Male Diversity Championships held in Sydney earlier this year, the national competition is designed to expose Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural players, coaches, and umpires to an elite AFL talent environment.
But for Haberecht, the Diversity Championships are not only about playing the game she loves, they are also about embracing her culture and sharing her pride with her teammates.
The Year 9 student from Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta has been playing AFL with the Baulkham Hills Hawks for only two years, but is already back for her second Diversity Championships.
Growing up in Western Sydney, Haberecht says AFL has always been a big part of her life, as her father and uncle were passionate Collingwood supporters. It was her desire to try an alternative team sport that would provide her an opportunity to stay fit, which ultimately led her to picking up the Sherrin.
Reflecting upon last year’s Diversity Championships, Haberecht says her experiences competing against other girls at an intense level, inspired her to continually strive towards improving her game.
“The best moments from last year’s Diversity Championships were being part of a team and program in which we were treated like professional players,” Haberecht said.
“We had the privilege of having five days’ access to an experienced coach, a fitness leader and physiotherapist, who each supported us to develop our football skills, leadership and communication.”
While she initially felt intimidated by the other girls who were also competing, she soon realised that many of the players shared similar feelings and was able to form close bonds with them.
Haberecht says she is looking forward to the 2017 Female Diversity Championships as she gets the chance to make new friends from different cultures, travel together, and embrace her culture with girls from across Australia.
AFL NSW/ACT Indigenous Programs Manager, Charlee-Sue Frail says that the Diversity Championships are a great opportunity to support the playing and leadership skills of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
“The Championships are all about empowering our young women to reach their potential, both on and off the field of field,” Frail said.
“Throughout the week, the young women will participate in lunchtime education sessions, group activities on teamwork and confidence building, and will have the opportunity to learn from three incredible coaches.
“We are proud to have such a diverse range of participants this year, from all across the state and from all different skill levels.”
The 2017 Female Diversity Championships begin with the official opening ceremony tonight in Byron Bay and with matches kicking off from Tuesday. AFL NSW/ACT’s first match will be against Western Australia at 9am on Tuesday morning.