Woomeras and Medleys learn leadership in Darwin

Seven players from the AFL NSW/ACT region traveled to Darwin recently as a part of the 2019 AFL Medleys and Rio Tinto Woomeras Leadership Program.

Fifty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural players from across the country participated in a six-day camp focusing on personal and cultural development, as well as high-performance training.

AFL NSW/ACT’s Daniella Rustom, Sarah Heptinstall, Sibella Sarraf, Eman Asaad and Dema Jarrar were in attendance as a part of the 2019 AFL Medleys (multicultural) side, while Afeni Tabuai-Salee and Ciarn Larrescy took part with the 2019 Rio Tinto AFL Woomeras (Indigenous and Torres Strait Islands).

The program saw participants take part in sessions including cultural education, football education, nutrition, mental health and team bonding. They also competed against each other with the tour culminating in a match between the two.

Western Sydney’s Dema Awwad, said the tour experience was ‘life changing’.

“The coaches, managers, nutritionists and physio were all amazing, putting the team first, making sure we were always happy and giving great advice and pointers,” said Awwad.

“Every day was a new adventure, from the high intensity training sessions, competitive game days, bonding sessions and team meetings, to the fun times at the waterfront.

“Everything we did and everyone I met taught me a lesson, always bringing something new to the table.

Awwad’s local football teammate from the Bankstown Bullsharks, Daniella Rustom said it was an ‘extraordinary week’ where she bonded strongly with her peers.

“I learnt many things about leadership, such as always being positive to everyone around you and also to yourself,” said Rustom.

“I also learnt that leadership is about having a voice, and always listening to others.

“The biggest thing I learnt was if you build a connection with your teammates on and off the field, it will make you become a better person on and also off the field.”

While football was a major part of the tour outcomes for the players selected to travel to Darwin, Awwad said that she was not only able to learn about football and leadership, but she also learned a lot about herself.

“I learnt that the amount of change that can happen in a week is insurmountable,” said Awwad.

“The friendships that are created in such a short time, feel as if they’ve been developed over years. Before going on this trip, I didn’t realise the value of friendship or family and over these past few days I’ve come to realise my true potential and capabilities as a leader.

“That I am not perfect, and no one is. That I am not where I want to be just yet, but I am willing to push hard for what I want.

“This trip has allowed me to exit my little shell that I’ve been hiding in for the past four years of playing footy. This trip has made me realise that everybody is a leader in their own sense and from opportunity comes success.”

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