Representatives from the University of Melbourne enjoyed both social and sporting success at this year’s National Indigenous Tertiary Education Games.
The Games were held at the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane and were the biggest in the competition’s twentyyear history. Twentyfive universities from around Australia attended the fourday event, held from 26 to 30 June. Thirtythree teams competed and approximately 450 students participated.
This year was important for the University of Melbourne team, who fielded their largest ever group. A contingent of thirty students were divided into two Blue and Black teams. The teams were led by UMSU Indigenous Office Bearers Wunambi Connor and Emily Kayte James. The groups competed enthusiastically, and were rewarded with a third place finish. Queensland University of Technology came first.
This result adds to the University of Melbourne’s impressive track record at the Indigenous University Games. Having only competed since 2009, the University has placed in the top three teams for six years in a row. This year, the Black team defended their volleyball title for a third year in a row after a tense semifinal. The Black team were also runners up in basketball, and advanced to the semifinals in netball.
“The Black team was the more competitive team, whilst Blue was the more social team,” Connor said.
On an individual level, University of Melbourne Masters student and Indigenous Games veteran Verhonda Smith was named Most Valuable Player in the Women’s category for both basketball and volleyball at the Closing Night ceremony.
Connor and James endeavoured to provide an opportunity to the largest group possible. Out of seventy applicants, thirty students were selected from various year levels.
“The people you go to Indigenous Games with are friends that you’re going to know for life. You can’t deny it, it happens,” Connor said.
University of Melbourne students made connections with players from other universities on and off the field, at themed social nights held throughout the week. “There’s a lot of connection at the Games,” said Connor.
“Students were able to meet up with friends from different universities, as well as seeing family members.”
Next year, students will have the opportunity to enjoy the sense of connection and celebration more locally, as the Indigenous Games will be held at Deakin University’s Geelong Campus.