Kyogle's Shannon Walker.
Kyogle's Shannon Walker. The Northern Star

Indigenous stars ready to shine

THE stars of Northern Rivers Indigenous sport will be honoured at an awards ceremony next week.

The awards night, to be held at the Lismore Workers Club on Saturday, July 12, is being organised by the Northern United Rugby League Football Club and will give due recognition to local Indigenous sports people across a host of disciplines.

Northern United Secretary Grantley Creighton said interest in the awards night was running high.

He said United had already received 35 nominations across nine sports: Athletics, boxing, cricket, hockey, netball, rugby league, touch football, surfing and swimming.

Creighton, a former league player with Ballina and Marist Brothers, said the idea for an awards night came after United successful hosted the NSW Aboriginal rugby league knockout last year.

It is believed to be the first such local sports awards night in the region and organisers hope to hold it every two years.

"There's a lot of talent coming through in the local Aboriginal sporting scene," Creighton said.

"We want to acknowledge what they're doing and what they've achieved in their chosen sport."

The Northern Rivers has a rich history in Indigenous sport.

Perhaps one of the most historically famous figures is Sam Anderson, a wicketkeeper-batsman from Coraki who stumped Sir Donald Bradman in a match in Lismore in September 1928.

Francis Roberts, who grew up on Cubawee reserve in Lismore, was an accomplished boxer and became the first Aboriginal boxer to win selection in an Australian Olympic Games team, for Tokyo in 1964 - the same year as Lionel Rose.

The region can also boast former and current National Rugby League (NRL) players (Rocky Laurie, Albert Torrens, Shannon Walker); world champion boxers (Tony and Anthony Mundine); and a host of home-based footballers (rugby, league, Touch), swimmers, netballers, track and field athletes and cricketers figuring prominently in their competitions.

"What we're finding is that, lately, Indigenous kids in particular are taking up different sports," Creighton said. "Before it was just rugby league but I think kids now are venturing out more and mixing with different groups and finding different sporting pathways, which is a good thing."

The event is supported by Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin, State Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell, and the Summerland Credit Union.

Tickets for the dinner, which coincides with the National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week celebrations, can be purchased from the Lismore Workers Club up until Thursday, July 10. Phone the club on 6621 7401 for more information.

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