Worimi elder John Ridgeway said it was a "thrill" to see so many teens from Aboriginal nations across the state come together in Port Stephens this week for the start of PCYC's Nations of Origin event.
"Seeing so many young people from so many different towns here on Worimi land, celebrating Aboriginal culture, it fills my heart," Uncle John said.
Nations of Origin brings about 1200 Indigenous and non-Indigenous students aged 14 to 16 together under the flag of their respective Aboriginal nations to participate sporting events that promote reconciliation, school attendance and community.
Thirty NSW Aboriginal nations including Awabakal, Biripi, Darkinjung, Eora, Gamilaraay, Kamilaroi, Ngemba, Tharawal, Wiradjuri, Wonnarua and Yuin are being represented across the four-day tournament that features Rugby League 7s, Football 5s, basketball and netball tournaments.
"This is the largest event of its kind in Australia and PCYC is proud to be hosting the Nations event for the seventh year," Dominic Teakle, CEO of PCYC NSW, said.
"Bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth together through a shared interest like sport introduces dialogue and encourages learning, relationship building and acceptance and that is what PCYC NSW's Nations of Origin is about."
Nations of Origin kicked off with the rugby league sevens tournament in Raymond Terrace on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sport is also being played in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie as part of Nations of Origin.
The rugby league tournament, which draws the largest attendance of the four Nations sports, saw 68 teams with a combined 850 players - some from as far as Broken Hill - come together on Lakeside's ovals to play.
After two days of competition, the teams to come out on top were:
- Boys plate - Kamilaroi Sth (winners) vs Awabakal White
- Boys cup - Awabakal Red (winners) vs Eora
- Girls plate - Biripi (winners) vs Biripai
- Girls cup - Darkinjung (Umima) vs Darug West (winners)
The last remaining Worimi team in the rugby league competition on Wednesday afternoon, the under-16 boys, were just beaten by the buzzer in their semi-final game against Kamilaroi, going down 14-12.
"The PCYC Nations of Origin is a great event that showcases the outstanding young Rugby League talent of the Indigenous community," NSW Rugby League Indigenous and community programs manager, Kristian Heffernan, said.
The football fives was staged at Lake Macquarie Football Facility in Speers Point on Wednesday.
The netball competition will be contested at the Raymond Terrace courts on Thursday while the basketball competition will be held at Newcastle Basketball Stadium on Friday.
Nations of Origin sporting events are being held on the land of the Worimi (Port Stephens) and Awabakal (Newcastle, Lake Macquarie) First Nations people.
Worimi under-16 boys versus Kamilaroi:
Nation flag bearers walk on to the field for the opening ceremony:
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