I would never have imagined that there was a country that shared the same passion for AFL as we do here in Australia.
Nauru, one of the most isolated countries in the South Pacific, lives and breathes the game of AFL.
With a population of just over 11,000 people, Nauru has 18 men’s teams, five women’s teams, junior competitions and Auskick.
As you drive through the town, houses are painted in team colours, club logos are sprayed on car bonnets and players are seen training every afternoon on the white, rocky gravel fields.
Vice-captain Angela Foley, young recruit Nikki Gore and I were lucky enough to head to Nauru to learn more about their culture and interact with the footy fanatics.
After 14 hours of travel, we arrived at Nauru airport at 4am.
Some of the locals had caught wind of our visit and woken up early to greet us at the airport.
We met with the President of Nauru and his wife who welcomed us as the first AFL Women’s players to step foot on their home soil, before having lunch with the Australian High Commission employees and AFL Nauru board members.
We attended an Athletics Carnival which was being held at the football oval - which was an interesting sight to see, the racetrack had lines marked with oil on the gravel rocks.
Ange, Nikki and I had the pleasure of doing some activities with the children after their races.
When we put the call out to see if anyone wanted to come and join, we ended up with 300 keen kids and only 14 footballs. Organised chaos!
In the evening, we were invited by the President to join him for the State dinner to celebrate Nauru’s Constitution Day.
We had the opportunity to thank everyone for welcoming us with open arms and we spoke about the power and impact sport has.
View this post on Instagram
Made it to Nauru after 10hours of travelling. So excited to be here and meet all the locals that share the same love and passion for AFL as we do. AFL is huge here, we’ll be running some coaching clinics, speaking about the benefits of physical activity and women in sport, attending sporting and local events.
The following day, we assisted with launching the inaugural Karate Championships by getting the 100 children warmed up with some fun games.
After, we were taken for a tour through the new Nauru Museum, learning about the history of Nauruan people from the very early days, through World War II to where they are now.
We paid a visit to the children’s hospital, handing out gifts to the children and hopefully putting a few smiles on their faces.
One of my favourite memories was when we went to watch the local football club play some intraclub trial matches.
The intensity and attack on the footy was unbelievable to watch considering they played on a rocky surface.
This didn’t stop them from tackling just as hard, if anything, it taught players to keep their feet.
We then delivered our very own coaching clinic for all the women and children, who were all so eager to learn and play.
Everyone walked away with a Crows shirt and poster, and the girls said they were going to change one of their women’s team names to the Adelaide Crows, which was a nice gesture.
After a few hectic days, day three was an opportunity to learn more about the island and the country.
We went out on a charter boat and fished with some of the locals, catching over 30 tunas and four sharks that we shared with the community afterwards.
Only two days prior, they went out and only caught the one fish, so they were excited with our efforts. Ange Foley was the fishing queen, reeling in the biggest one of the day.
Post fishing, we explored the centre of the island and visited some of the old war guns and tracks in the jungle from the World War.
It was a whirlwind trip, but an amazing experience that we’ll forever be grateful for.
Massive thanks to the Australian High Commission, Nauru Airlines, AFL Nauru and Simon Highfield, the AFL’s South Pacific Development Officer, who helped make this visit possible.
View this post on Instagram