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Future stars chase their dreams at Kirby Bentley Cup

Kirby Bentley talks to Docker TV about the Kirby Bentley Cup. Kirby Bentley chats to Docker TV about her involvement in the Kirby Bentley Cup.

Kirby Bentley’s face was everywhere at Lightning Park in Noranda on Friday night, where more than 250 Indigenous girls took part in the fifth annual Kirby Bentley Cup.

While the Fremantle forward was featured on the jumpers and the footballs, Bentley herself was the main attraction, signing autographs and taking selfies with the competitors as they rested between games.

Eighteen teams took part from metro and regional Western Australia, with East Perth winning the title for the second year running, defeating South Fremantle 6.7 (43) to 2.0 (12). Layla Nelson was awarded the best on ground award in the Grand Final.

The winning East Perth team

“We started this in 2014 and the idea behind it is to engage Indigenous females in our great game,” Bentley said.

“The girls are exposed to playing football and also enjoying it with their cousins and sisters.

“Hopefully, if they’re aspiring to be AFLW players, they get the opportunity to be exposed to it and go through the mainstream football selection process.”

Most teams wore a variation of a jumper designed by Bentley, that represented the future these girls can have in ‘Aussie Rules’.

“I wasn’t sure about the photo of me (on the front) but it gives me a great sense of pride,” Bentley said.

“I designed parts of the jumper, the symbol on the back of the jumper means women and the boomerang represents hunting and chasing our dreams, and the little dots are representative of stars.

“So it shows these are the stars of our future hunting and chasing their dreams.”

Bentley was pleased to be joined by most of her Fremantle teammates at the event.

“These young girls are so engaged in watching the AFLW and watching Fremantle, they always talk about coming down to our games,” Bentley said.

“It’s great to see my teammates out in support. It think it’s important for these girls to have Indigenous role models and also non-Indigenous role modes - female footballers to look up to and be inspired by.”

While Bentley will miss the 2018 NAB AFL Women’s season with a knee injury, as one of the pioneers in West Australian women’s football, she’s also playing a role as a mentor within her club.

“I want to help the team in any way I can through my experience and understanding of the game,” Bentley said. 

“Sometimes it’s moral support, sometimes it’s just an ear to listen to. We try to bounce off each other and build that relationship.”

The Nicky Winmar carnival will be contested on Sunday at Bendigo bank Stadium for Indigenous boys born from 2003 to 2005.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs