It was dubbed the #dreamBigTime tour but for over 100 promising First Nations rugby players, that big dream has taken another step towards reality.
After a lengthy tour of most of Australia to unearth future indigenous sevens stars, a group of 133 players has been selected and will attend a national talent camp in Sydney later this month.
With the input of Glen Ella and Andrew Walker, a Rugby Australia high performance panel selected the 46 females and 87 makes from a series of talent identification days in rural and regional Australia.
Starting in Bathurst on March, the #dreamBigTime tour first went west to South Australia, and into the Northern Territory up to Uluru. A second trip went north through NSW and Queensland and a third trip is slated for WA later in the year.
The documentary above explains the journey.
The aim of the Rugby Australia initiative is to discover First Nations athletes for the sevens programs, with an eye to fielding some at the 2024 Olympics.
The first crop of 133 budding First Nations athletes will kick off their journey with a three-day camp in Sydney.
Rugby Australia project manager Jarred Hodges, a former Aussie sevens assistant coach, said contacting the chosen talent was incredibly rewarding.
‘’The best part for me was phoning 133 individuals to let them know they made the cut," Hodges said in a release.
"They were so overwhelmed with happiness…some cried, others were speechless, and a few put the phone on loudspeaker so their family could hear the news.
‘’It’s a lot to take in when you find out you’ve been given the opportunity to trial for Rugby Australia’s First Nations Sevens sides.
‘’The selection panel included current and former First Nations stars including Glen Ella and Andrew Walker and together we looked at not just their physical skills such as speed, aerobic fitness and passing skills but also their ability to make quick decisions under pressure and working together as a team.
‘’While our squads will be announced after the camp these teams will continue to grow and change as we have plans to head over to Western Australia within the next six to nine months and uncover more First Nations talent."
Following the camp two First Nations Sevens squads of 30 will be chosen to compete around the country.
The camp will also offer lessons off the field which centre around the importance of leadership, recovery and nutrition.
For the full list of participants, click this link.