Football. Gym. Basketball. Football. Boxing. Gym. Football.
These activities are all in an average week for Nalin Moore, an 18-year-old Indigenous woman paving the way for those in her local community Mildura.
Nalin, who happened to have a team-high 16 disposals for Bendigo Pioneers in her NAB League Girls debut last weekend has become a leader for the next generation in the Sunraysia region.
Along with Katlin Mitchell, Chantelle Mitchell, and Shelby Hooker, the Indigenous girls local to Mildura have been able to use their football merits and healthy lifestyle to shine a positive light for others.
The talented friends are all excelling on and off the field and making the most of local connections, thanks to the REAL Healthy Program and complimentary use of Aligned Leisure’s Mildura WAVES.
The REAL Healthy program is delivered out of Richmond’s Korin Gamadji Institute thanks to the support of the Australian Government. The program provides participants with a free health and wellbeing program including access to Aligned Leisure health and recreation facilities. The REAL Healthy program is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples between the ages of 13 – 25.
Samantha Bice, a strong supporter of the girls, who drove a car full of them on the eight-hour round trip to Bendigo for training sessions in the preseason, said each had become a role model for the younger generation.
“My young girls at school already know who these girls are,” Bice from the Stars Foundation and Nangiloc Women’s FC said.
“They see them playing footy, basketball and going to gym or eating well. They want to do that too.”
Distance, study, and work commitments can make it difficult for Mildura footballers to excel, given attendance on Tuesday/Thursday training sessions in Bendigo are near impossible to make during the year without relocating.
“But the girls are fortunate now that they now have Richmond Football Club and KGI supporting them,” Bice explained.
“Pioneers can now appreciate their efforts and the work they are doing locally through REAL Healthy, WAVES and with ‘Dyl’ (REAL Healthy- Mildura Based KGI Program Officer Dylan Murphy) who provides support for them in the gym, with exercise, and with their mental health.
“They have some real talent, and the coaches have loved them every single year, but even this year, the girls originally didn’t get invited (to train) because it is so easy for us to get forgotten about here (in Mildura).
“So, to see them getting their opportunities, it’s great, they deserve to be seen and to be heard (and) the region deserves the chance to be put on the map.”
THE KGI EFFECT
Nalin says she would have never even had the courage to attend a Pioneers training session before her first REAL Camp, regardless of how skillful she was.
“When I first started KGI, I never talked, I never even said one word, but by the end of my first week, you couldn’t shut me up,” she added.
“I always looked forward to going down there, and it’s definitely made me more confident. It’s amazing that with REAL Healthy in Mildura, younger people can experience that without traveling.”
Moore, who has now been engaged with KGI for six years, said that locals often ask her how they too can get into KGI and REAL Healthy, a stark contrast to her experience where she describes reluctantly attending her first camp.
“I was so quiet at school. If I struggled with something, I would not even ask for help. Now I am best friends with the teachers,” she said.
“Workers at my school had to convince me to go, but after my first camp I came back trying to get every Indigenous kid I knew to do the program just because it helped so much.
“My little siblings are getting into REAL Healthy, and they love it. My brother had his first camp on the weekend, and he learned how to ride a bike.
“He came home, and we had to buy him a bike. Now he won’t get off it.”
KGI REAL Healthy Lead- Brady Cooper, said that Nalin along with her younger siblings were great examples of the benefits of REAL Healthy emerging in Mildura.
“These young kids and future leaders can attend a program in their own community now,” he said.
“They don’t need to wait for the holidays to come, or a trip to Melbourne- they can grow and connect in their own backyard with a fulltime staff member helping them.”
Regardless of what the Mitchell sisters, Shelby and Nalin can achieve on the football field this season and beyond, they have made a mark in their community.