Gunnedah soccer junior player Marnee Walters has challenged some of the state’s best at the 2023 NAIDOC Cup in Sydney.

The midfielder represented the under 14 Northern Inland side at the carnival alongside 140 players and officials from across Football NSW.

The tournament provides opportunities for First Nations footballers to represent their region and coincided with NAIDOC Week.

Such was Marnee’s ability, she was selected as a substitute to play up in age in the under 16 fixture.

There she laced up the boots alongside some players some who are already competing at the elite level.

“I was nervous and excited at the same time,” Marnee said of her under 16 representation. 

“Most of the girls in the 16s play A League and many of them play for the Newcastle Jets. 

“It was really competitive.”

And her tournament highlight?

“Participating in the cultural activities and meeting lots of new people,” she said. 

It was not Marnee’s first time representing her region, having been selected to represent North West at the PSSA Girls Football Championships in Bathurst last year.

She has also been a proud member of Gunnedah and District Soccer Association since age four and currently plays in the Saturday competitions.

But for Marnee, who also plays representative cricket, it is soccer’s speed that is the big attraction.

“I really enjoy the fast pace of the game and the space you have on the field,” she said.

“I like the competitive nature of the sport.”

Football NSW chairman Gilbert Lorquet said the NAIDOC Cup was a fantastic opportunity to showcase skill and talent of players from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

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