Following the announcement by Football Northern Territory about the game’s welcomed return, women’s football will take centre stage this Friday night as first competitive football match in Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Reigning champions and Darwin WPL premiers Hellenic Athletic Women face the newly promoted NT Yapas at Darwin Football Stadium on Friday night from 7.00pm AET (6.30pm local time).
The NT Yapas will make history as the first all indigenous women’s side to play in the Darwin Women's Premier League, and striker Marcey Gurruwiwi said her team is ready to find their place in the Women's Premier League.
“The girls are happy and excited to be able to play in the top competition,” she said. “We can’t wait to win at least one or two games in the season.”
“The girls are looking forward to playing and doing our best.”
The promotion for Yapas to compete in the WPL is an incredible achievement for the coaches, staff and players involved and for team that was formed in 2016.
Gurruwiwi said that the team’s first game against Hellenic is the first of many new challenges they are ready to take on.
“Hellenic is the best team in the competition. We’ve got some of our new girls playing for us on Friday, so hopefully we will try and do our best,” she said.
“If we win this game, with our new jersey, it would be great.”
Under coach Steve Lolias, Yapas’ are creating solid opportunities for young Indigenous females not only as players, but also in management roles.
Gurruwiwi said she is not only playing for herself on Friday but is instead representing her entire community.
I represent my community while feeling comfortable playing with a group of sisters.”
“I’m bringing my family to play.”
Their opponents Hellenic Athletic are the current WPL champions and premiers with a long-standing history.
For team captain Leonora Kilmartin and player/coach Georgia Hajdic, the club has been a key part of their lives. Together, the teammates and cousins have been a part of the club for over 30 years.
Now the pair are ready to make their way back onto the pitch following an unexpectedly layoff.
“We’ve been waiting for a while now,” Kilmartin said. “We were devastated when the season got called off so returning is pretty exciting, even with the restrictions and new rules in place.”
“We’re ready to smash that park like we do every year.”
For Hellenic, Yapas represent a new challenge they are ready to take on.
“I know it's going to be a challenge for the girls because Yapas’ are a new team and we don’t know what to expect,” Hajdic said. “I think that’s exciting, it’s a new challenge,”
“We’re just excited to get back out on the pitch and step up to the challenge and promote our game.”
Watch NT Yapas kick off against Hellenic AC Friday 5 at 7.00pm AET (6.30pm local time).
Football NT Women’s Premier League
NT Yapas v Hellenic AC
Friday, 5 June 2020
Kick-off 6:30pm local (7pm AEST)