Our people doing great things

Other Community topics: Events, Indigenous affairs, Organisations, People,


Outstanding Achievement in NRL

Jamie Soward

Jamie Soward made his NRL debut with the Roosters in 2005. He was a member of the Roosters record-breaking, under 20s team that became the first premiership side since 1959 to go through the competition undefeated. That season, he scored 28 tries and kicked 117 goals for a record 352-point tally, which remains a club record.

Jamie made his first-grade debut with the Roosters in 2005 but struggled to cement a first-grade position. He was released by the club midway through 2007 and quickly linked up with the Dragons.

2008 was a frustrating year for Jamie. He spent long stints playing Premier League and was dropped by then Coach Nathan Brown on the eve of the finals series.

Under the mentorship of new coach Wayne Bennett this year, Jamie has enacted an inspiring comeback and blossomed into one of the NRL’s most in-form half-backs.

2009 has seen Jamie become the first player to pass 200 points for the season, and he currently leads the NRL in points scoring and kick metres.

The Dragons are also favourites to win the minor premiership, with Jamie playing an integral part in their successful season. He also earned his first rep call-up after being selected to play for Country Origin.

Johnathan Thurston

Since making his debut with the Bulldogs back in 2002, Johnathan Thurston has been on a steady ascent toward the elite echelon of NRL footballers and is now considered by many pundits to be the best rugby league player in the world.

After winning a premiership with the Bulldogs in 2004, Johnathan signed with the North Queensland Cowboys and helped to lead the club to a Grand Final appearance in 2005.

That year also saw Johnathan make his State of Origin debut for Queensland and he finished the season being named Dally M player of the Year.

In 2006, Johnathan made his test debut against New Zealand and he has since led the Maroons to three consecutive Origin series victories, winning the Wally Lewis medal as Player of the Series in 2008 and starring for Australia at the 2008 World Cup.

2009 has been another vintage year for Jonathan, seeing him once more play an integral part in Queensland’s Origin series win and confirming his standing as the game’s most dominant player.

Preston Campbell

One of the most exciting and courageous players in the National Rugby League, Preston Campbell continues to inspire fellow players and fans with his exhilarating style of play.

Preston began his professional Rugby League career playing at fullback for the Gold Coast Chargers in 1998.
He joined the Cronulla Sharks in 1999 and, after being promoted by Coach John Lang to replace the injured David Peachey in 2001, made an immediate impact and finished the season being named Dally M Player of the Year.

In 2002, Preston was granted a release from the Sharks and joined Lang at the Penrith Panthers, who went on to win the NRL premiership in 2003, with Preston playing at halfback and five-eighth.
New NRL franchise the Gold Coast Titans made Preston their inaugural signing in 2005 and Preston began playing with the club in their debut season in 2007.

In 2008, Preston was named the Titans’ Player of the Year, and in 2009 he has amazed fans with his durability and versatility across the park, playing at halfback, five-eighth and fullback to help the Titans seal their first final’s birth in club history.

Outstanding Achievement in AFL

Cyril Rioli

The nephew of former Richmond great Maurice Rioli and former Essendon stars Dean Rioli and Michael Long, Cyril Rioli moved to Melbourne in his mid-teens to attend and play for the prestigious AFL nursery, Scotch College.

In July 2007, Cyril boosted his pre-draft stocks by booting seven goals for the Northern Territory in the Under 18s championship and was eventually drafted by the Hawthorn Hawks with the 12th pick in the AFL draft.

Cyril made his AFL debut in Hawthorn’s demolition of Melbourne at the MCG in Round 1 of the 2008 season. He went on to play 25 games in what was a close-to-perfect debut year: he played in every game of the season, won the Premiership Flag and narrowly missed out on Rookie of the Year honours.

In February 2009, Cyril played with the Indigenous All-Stars squad in the match against Adelaide.

After playing 36 consecutive games since being drafted, Cyril tore his hamstring in Round 11 against the Sydney Swans and spent a month on the sideline before returning against North Melbourne in Round 15. His return was described as a “big boost” for Hawthorn’s last-ditch bid to revive its season.

A highly skilled small forward or midfielder who is deadly around goal, especially with his left foot, Cyril has displayed true star calibre in his first two AFL seasons.

Leon Davis

Leon was drafted by Collingwood in 1999 as a small forward and notched just under 40 games in his first two AFL seasons – averaging just on a goal a game.

Leon played in both of Collingwood’s Grand Final appearances in 2002 and 2003, and he was particularly impressive in 2002 when he played an important role in the Magpies’ Grand Final run, booting 31 goals as a 21-year-old.

Noted for his freakish ‘banana kicks’, Leon has been a regular contender in Goal of the Year calculations and finally won the award in 2008.

2008 was also arguably the best year of Leon’s career and he finished the season averaging 17 possessions, 14 kicks and five marks (all career highs). He kicked 32 goals for the season and kicked a goal in all but three of his matches.

2009 has been another strong year for Leon, having currently booted 33 goals from 20 matches. Unsurprisingly, he has featured heavily in Goal of the Year nominations once again.

Leon has also re-signed with the Magpies for two years until 2011.

Michael O’Loughlin

Drafted by the Swans in 1995, Michael has played all 14 seasons of his career at Sydney, where he has established himself as one of the club’s biggest stars and most influential players. Michael is a gifted full forward, with superb goal awareness and marking ability.

Michael played for Australia in International Rules in both 1997 and 2000, and he was the Swans leading goal kicker in 2000 and 2001.

In 2004, Michael overcame a hamstring injury and knee tendonitis to kick 38 goals in just 18 appearances.
In 2005, Michael was named in the Indigenous Team of the Century, an honour which he described as the highlight of his career. Later that year, Michael had another major career highlight when Sydney won the 2005 AFL Grand Final.

In 2006, Michael continued to be a key part of the Swan’s line-up and played a decisive role in the qualifying and preliminary finals that put the Swans into the Grand Final for the second consecutive year.

2009 has been a monumental year for Michael. After announcing 2009 as his final year in the AFL, he kicked his 500th career goal against Geelong in Round 7, and in Round 19 against Richmond, he became the first player to play 300 games for the Sydney Swans and only the third Indigenous player to reach the lofty milestone.

Patrick Ryder

Ryder was part of the AFL U18 All-Australian team, and he represented Australia in the U18 International Rules series in Ireland.

He enjoyed a successful career in the WAFL playing for East Fremantle before being snapped up by Essendon with the seventh pick in the 2005 AFL Draft.

He made his AFL debut in Round 1 of the 2006 season, earning a Rising Star Nomination in his first senior match.

2009 has been the strongest year of Patrick’s career to date. In April, he won the Anzac Medal, following a scintillating performance against Collingwood where he played in the ruck unassisted for the entire game.

Noted for his speed, agility and leaping ability, Patrick has even been compared to retired Indigenous Australian Rules football legend Graham “Polly” Farmer.

Male Sportsperon of the Year

Anthony Mundine

Anthony Mundine began his professional sporting life as a Rugby League player, making his first-grade debut with the St George Dragons in 1993. Anthony went on to scale the heights of the sport, becoming one of the stars of the competition and earning representative honours with NSW in 1999.

In 2000, Anthony made a shock retirement from Rugby League to follow in his father’s footsteps into the boxing ring. He quickly went on to claim the Australian Super Middleweight title in only his sixth professional bout.

In 2003, Anthony achieved a lifelong dream after he defeated American Antwun Echols to capture the vacant WBA Super Middleweight world title in Sydney. But after one successful defence, Anthony lost the world title in a close points decision against Puerto Rican Manny Siaca in 2004.

In June 2005, Anthony made an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim his lost WBA title when he was outpointed by champion Mikkel Kessler in Sydney.

In 2006, Anthony faced archrival Danny Green in a fight that stopped the nation. In what was one of the most hyped sporting contests in Australian sporting history, Anthony dominated the fight in front of 40,000 people at Aussie Stadium in Sydney, winning by unanimous decision.

Riding the momentum of the euphoric Danny Green victory, in early 2007 Anthony regained the WBA Super Middleweight crown he lost three years earlier by knocking out Sam Soliman in the ninth round of their world title bout in Sydney.

Later that year, Anthony was hospitalised with an eye infection caused by a dirty contact lens and he was told that he was unlikely to regain full vision.

In May 2008, Anthony relinquished his WBA Super Middleweight title and, after moving to the middleweight division in February of 2009, he won a unanimous decision over Shannon Taylor for the vacant WBA International Middleweight title.

In May 2009, Anthony faced International Boxing Organization middleweight champion Daniel Geale and won the fight on split decision.

Michael O’Loughlin

Drafted by the Swans in 1995, Michael has played all 14 seasons of his career at Sydney, where he has established himself as one of the club’s biggest stars and most influential players.

Michael is a sublimely gifted full-forward with superb goal awareness and marking ability.

He played for Australia in International Rules in both 1997 and 2000, and was the Swans’ leading goal kicker in 2000 and 2001.

In 2004, Michael overcame a hamstring injury and knee tendonitis to kick 38 goals in just 18 appearances.
In 2005, Michael was named in the Indigenous Team of the Century, an honor which he described as the highlight of his career.

Later that year, Michael hasd another major career highlight when Sydney won the 2005 AFL Grand Final.
In 2006, Michael continued to be a key part of the Swans’ line-up and played a decisive role in the qualifying and preliminary finals that put the Swans into the Grand Final for the second consecutive year.

2009 has been a monumental year for Michael. After announcing 2009 as his final year in the AFL, he kicked his 500th career goal against Geelong in Round 7, and in Round 19 against Richmond, he became the first player to play 300 games for the Sydney Swans and only the third Indigenous player to reach the lofty milestone.

Nathan Jawai

Originally from Bamaga in Far North Queensland, Nathan moved to Cairns to play with Indigenous team the Kuiyam Pride before hooking up with the Cairns Marlins in the ABA.

In June 2005, Nathan was selected for the Australian Boomers squad during a training camp held on the Gold Coast.

In the same year, Nathan joined the Australian young men’s team, The Crocs, who departed on a tour of Europe, playing in Greece and Slovenia before making their way to Toronto and then Argentina for the FIBA World Championships.

In 2006, Nathan completed his scholarship at the AIS and soon after he headed to the United States to begin playing with Midlands College in Texas.

After returning home, Nathan was signed by NRL club the Cairns Taipans in January 2007.
Nathan was a standout during his first NBL season and a unanimous winner of the 2008 Rookie of the Year award.

In July 2008, Nathan became the first Indigenous and 10th Australian to be drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), after he was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 41st pick overall.

Following a trade deal soon after the draft, Nathan signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors.

Nathan’s NBA career hit a major hurdle early on when he was diagnosed pre-season with an irregular heart murmur, forcing him into a required ‘rest’ from playing. Subsequently, Nathan didn’t make his NBA debut until January 2009, playing against the Detroit Pistons and becoming the first Indigenous Australian to play in the NBA.

In July of 2009, Nathan was traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

Patrick Mills

Patrick Mills has captured the Australian sporting public’s imagination over the past few years with his talent and potential to become a star on one of the world’s biggest sporting stages.

Patrick was born and raised in Canberra and is a star graduate of the AIS.

He first played for the Australian Boomers at the 2007 FIBA Oceania Men’s Championships.

In late 2007, Patrick made the big move to the United States where he joined St Mary’s College in California and quickly established himself as one of the most talented college players in the US.

At St Mary’s, Patrick broke several long-standing school records in scoring and was voted Western Conference Play of the Month, Most Valuable Player at the Rainbow Classic tournament, and WCC Newcomer of the Year at the end of the 2007/08 season.

In August 2008, Patrick joined the Australian Boomers at the Beijing Olympics and stood out as a key player for the Aussies, outplaying many of the American Dream Team’s biggest stars.

Back playing for St Mary’s in 2009, Patrick broke his hand while trying to break a fall and did not return until the WCC Conference Tournament in March.

This injury would affect Patrick’s standing in NBA draft calculations and in April of 2009, Patrick was eventually selected with the 25th pick in the second round (55th pick overall) by the Portland Trailblazers, becoming the second Indigenous player to be drafted into the NBA.

In a shattering blow, Patrick’s recent bad luck with injury continued when he fractured a bone in his foot during practice for the NBA summer league. The injury will force Patrick to miss up to six months of the NBA season and has placed his future with the Trailblazers in doubt.

Female Sportsperson of the Year

Bianca Franklin

Bianca Franklin is Goal Shooter and Goal Attack for the West Coast Fever.

Growing up in the Wheatbelt town of Dowerin, WA, Bianca always knew she wanted to play netball. However, it wasn’t until she was encouraged to look beyond her small town, 150km north-east of Perth, and try out for a regional representative team that she realised her full potential.

State honours soon followed, with Bianca winning selection to the West Australian 17 & Under team; just a few years later, she was elevated to the playing list of the Perth Orioles and a chance to play in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy – at that time, the most competitive national league in the world.

Selection in the 2004 Australian 21 & Under team heralded Bianca’s arrival as one of the most exciting junior netballers in the country.

Three years at the AIS Canberra Darters helped to hone her attacking instincts. She also had the opportunity to travel overseas and play at an international level against the best young netballers in the world.

In 2006, Bianca played for the Melbourne Kestrels then took 2007 off to travel and spend time watching her brother, Hawthorn star Lance Franklin, playing in the AFL.

After the break and at the end of the season, Bianca linked up with new outfit West Coast Fever in the all new Trans-Tasman ANZ Championship.

With a renewed focus, Bianca opened her first season with the Fever in great form, sinking 27 goals at 90 per cent in a sustained shooting effort that lifted the Fever to its first win of the season against New Zealand’s Northern Mystics.

Bianca finished the inaugural ANZ Championship series ranked 12th player overall with a shooting percentage of 81.5 per cent; she scored a total of 75 goals from 92 attempts with an average of 8.3 a game.

Bo de la Cruz

Bo de la Cruz was born in Darwin in 1981 and started playing touch football for her school at age 12. She represented the Northern Territory U18 touch side and in 1998 was selected in Australia’s U18 side to play against New Zealand.

In 2000, Bo won Most Valuable Player at the national titles and was later named Northern Territory Achiever at the Eighth National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sports Awards.

By the time Bo turned 22 she had already vice-captained two triumphant Australian touch football teams: once in 2000 as part of the U18 team that played New Zealand in the trans-Tasman series – and where she was named player of the series – and again in 2001 for the Youth World Cup, where again she was the tournament’s most outstanding player.

After selection in the open Australian team later in 2001, Bo secured herself a position in the senior Australia women’s touch football team. In the same year she won the NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year awards and the Deadly Award for Female Sportsperson of the Year.

In early 2003, after helping her state team, the Barbarians, to their highest-ever placing in the National Touch League, Bo travelled to Japan with the Australian team for the touch football World Cup. Australia went on to win the cup and Bo was named Overall Female Player of the Series and Most Valuable Player for Australia.

Later that year Bo was named as Northern Territory’s Sports Ambassador and Northern Territory’s Sports Young Achiever of the Year, as well as ATSIC National Sportswoman of the Year at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Awards.

In 2004, Bo was named the Northern Territory Sportsperson of the Year and was part of the victorious NSW Women’s Touch Football team in the State of Origin series.

In 2005, Bo made the Australian team to play the All Nations tournament in New Zealand, but an injury two weeks prior to the event prevented her from competing.

In 2007, Bo competed at her second touch football World Cup, this time held in South Africa, where the Australian team successfully defended their crown.

A year later, Bo made a code switch from touch football to seven a side Rugby Union and played her first competitive Rugby Sevens games in November of 2008.

In March 2009, Bo was a member of the World Cup winning Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens team who competed in Dubai, and it was Bo who set up the winning try in the final match.

Josie Janz

Born on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, at age four, Josie Janz moved with her family to the small town of Derby in the Kimberley.

Josie played a wide range of sports and grew up idolising netball stars Liz Ellis and Mo’onia Gerrard. Josie went on to represent Derby in athletics, basketball and swimming, but it was netball that became her sport of choice. As a teenager, she even ended up competing against some of her netball heroes.

Josie has since represented Australia at the Under 17, 19 and 21 levels, and she donned the black-and-gold state dress of Western Australia for seven years.

At 18, Josie was awarded a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport where she played for the AIS Canberra Darters in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy.

In 2008, Josie moved back to Perth. She currently plays for West Coast Fever in the ANZ Championship, in which she has played Goal Defence and Goal Keeper for two seasons.

Josie’s ambition is to play for the Australian Netball Diamonds in the open division.

Rohanee Cox

Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) sensation Rohanee Cox has had a rollercoaster career, but now stands as one of the premier women’s basketball players in Australia.

Rohanee is a former AIS scholarship holder who played with the Opals in Brazil in 1998 and won silver with the Australia Gems in 1997.

It was thought a severe knee injury suffered in 2003 while playing with the Perth Lynx would almost end Rohanee’s career, but she returned to the court following a two-and-a-half year hiatus, signing with the Townsville Fire where she was named Most Valuable Player at the end of the 2005/06 season.

In 2006, Rohanee was included in the Australian Opals squad for the 2006 FIBA World Championships, held in Brazil.

In her 24 games of the 2007/08 WNBL season, Rohanee scored a huge 515 points (the second-highest points scorer behind Natalie Porter) and ranked sixth in the league in total rebounds. These impressive stats launched Rohanee back into the Australian Opals.

Her excellent form throughout the Opals’ Olympic campaign helped the Australians win silver at the Beijing Olympic Games.

In March 2009, Rohanee was named Most Valuable Player for the 2008/09 WNBL season after finishing with a total of 4656 points at an average of 21.2 points per game. Rohanee also top-scored in 14 of 22 games, shooting at 44 per cent from the field, and was one of the league’s best rebounders, ranked sixth with 7.9 per game.

Most Promising New Talent in Sport

Jamal Idris

Nineteen-year-old Jamal Idris burst onto the Rugby League radar in late 2008 after making his NRL debut for the Bulldogs.

Standing at 192cm and weighing in at over 100kg, his imposing stature and long dreadlocks, together with explosive speed, power and athletic ability, mean Jamal has not gone unnoticed in 2009.

Jamal grew up in Forster on the Mid North Coast of NSW and was a world-ranked junior athlete who held numerous records in discus, javelin and shotput. He was in the Australian team that competed in the World Youth Championships in Ostrava in the Czech Republic in July 2007.

Jamal started the 2008 season playing in the Bulldogs SG Ball side and scored 10 tries before getting called up to play in the U20 National Youth Competition against the Wests Tigers.

He made his NRL debut for the Bulldogs in Round 24 against Parramatta and learned of his first-grade promotion less than 30 minutes after finishing a trial HSC exam.

In August 2008, Jamal made the all-Australian School Boys 3 test series, scoring four tries in just 20 minutes against France, and he also represented the Australian Indigenous team that year.

Jamal began the 2009 season in sensational form, scoring twice in the season opener against Manly. Playing mostly in the centres, Jamal has since gone on to play in 14 matches for the season, scoring seven tries, and has established himself as one of the code’s brightest young stars.

Kyah Simon

Born in 1991, Kyah Simon is a young football star currently playing for Australian W-League club the Central Coast Mariners.

Kyah grew up in the Western Sydney suburb of Blacktown and honed her skills with junior clubs Quakers Hill, Hills Brumbies and, later, Penrith Nepean United Football Club.

In 2005, Kyah got a call from Australian Institute of Sport coach Alen Stajcic who offered her a scholarship to join their soccer squad and invited her to the U17 National Training Camp in Coffs Harbour.

Kyah made her international debut playing for the Young Matildas against Hong Kong in an Olympic qualifier in August 2007, then followed it up with a friendly against Japan in Kobe in 2008.

Competing at the Peace Cup in June 2008, Kyah scored the dramatic winning goal in the dying seconds of the Matildas’ match against Brazil, handing the Australian national team their first-ever win over the South American nation.

After signing with W-League Central Coast Mariners, Kyah made her debut in the Australian W-League against the Melbourne Victory in October 2008. In Round 3, Kyah opened her scoring account in the league with a double against Canberra United. Kyah then capped off a marvellous debut season by being named the female U20 Footballer of the Year at the 2008 Australian Football Awards.

In 2009, Kyah toured Europe with the Young Matildas and has just returned from the Young Matilda’s Asian Championship campaign.

Highly versatile across the park, Kyah has played as a central midfielder and a striker for the U20s team and has ambitions of playing professionally in the United States.

Liam Jurrah

Born in 1988, Liam Jurrah comes from Yuendumu, a small community about 300km north-west of Alice Springs.
In September 2008, Liam won the Everingham Medal as the best player in the inaugural CAFL Grand Final, with his four first-quarter goals helping to set up Yuendumu’s premiership victory. Following the CAFL season, he also played for Nightcliff in the Northern Territory Football League.

Liam was recruited by Melbourne from the Yuendumu Magpies with the first selection in the 2009 pre-season draft. Previously, Liam had already spent time in Melbourne when he played four games for Collingwood in the VFL in 2008 and represented Victoria (VFL) against South Australia (SANFL).

Liam made his much-publicised AFL debut in Round 12 of the 2009 season against Essendon, becoming the first Indigenous Australian from a remote community in Central Australia to play senior football in the AFL.
In Melbourne’s Round 15 victory over Port Adelaide, Liam scored four goals and played a hand in several others, earning himself an AFL Rising Star nomination in the process.

Life in the big city has been a massive adjustment for Liam who speaks English as a second language and had not seen the ocean before his sting with Collingwood in 2008.

A tall (188cm) marking forward, who possesses great athleticism, quickness and kicking ability, Liam has kicked 15 goals in seven games so far this season and generated plenty of excitement among Demons fans and AFL pundits who consider him an exceptional talent with the potential to become a star in the game.

Luke Boyd

Born in 1987, boxer Luke Boyd grew up in St Marys in Sydney’s west.

A talented junior Rugby League player, Luke switched to boxing after deciding the sport would be a more natural fit due to his stature and explosive punching power.

Luke has two senior New South Wales titles in the bantamweight division and won his division in the junior category at his very first National Titles in 2005.

In 2007, Luke attempted to qualify for the 2007 Commonwealth Games while still a junior, but missed out by a mere two points. Later that year, Luke competed at the World Amateur Championships in Chicago, fighting his way through to the second round.

He also earned himself an Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) scholarship and won the bantamweight division in the Oceania Championships.

In 2008, Luke successfully defended his title and won his division in the Chemistry Cup in Germany. The highlight of his amateur career came in August 2008 when Luke competed at the Beijing Olympics.

Luke’s current ambition is to become the first Australian to win a Gold Medal in boxing at the Olympic Games.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.