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Tongala footballer takes on nation's best

Tongala's Ryley Cowley took part in the Indigenous and Multicultural National Championships in Coffs Harbour last week.

LUKE MCMANUS April 25, 2014 3:05am

The Victorian Kickstart squad, featuring Tongala’s Ryley Cowley, enjoyed a successful campaign at the Indigenous and Multicultural National Championships in Coffs Harbour last week.

The team, made up of the best under 15 indigenous talent from across Victoria and Tasmania, reached the preliminary final against reigning champions Western Australia.

After a hard-fought contest at Coffs Harbour’s International Sports Stadium, Victoria went down by two points in a thriller — 3.3(21) to 3.5(23).

Western Australia progressed to eventually win its fourth-straight championship, defeating Northern Territory by 68 points in the grand final.

Cowley, who made the trip with his family, said the experience was ‘‘unreal’’, marvelling at the calibre of footballers who took part in the five-day event.

On top of playing, teams met and listened to guest speakers, including AFL great Kevin Sheedy, Brisbane premiership player Chris Johnson and recently retired Melbourne star Aaron Davey, which Cowley said was one of many highlights of the championships.

‘‘It was really good, there were a lot of good footballers up there,’’ Cowley said.

‘‘They are all very skilful and pretty quick.

‘‘I could have played a bit better, I got heaps of game time and a few kicks but I didn’t play my best.’’

Cowley, who plays for Tongala’s 17 and under team, was tried at both ends of the ground during Victoria’s fixture.

Starting on the half-back flank, Cowley was moved to his more familiar position on the wing before settling on the half-forward flank.

It was a successful competition for Victoria despite an interrupted preparation.

Cowley and his teammates faced a 15-hour delay at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, causing the squad to arrive a day later than scheduled.

After a rushed opening day, the team consolidated to win three and draw two of its next six matches to reach the preliminary final.

Luke McManus

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