[by Alice Ellis]
Image: Sunshine Coast Daily
Two women to lead the Indigenous All-Stars male/female NRL Touch Football line-up at AAMI Park
Touch Football Australia (TFA) CEO Steve Mitchell says two women leading this footy team demonstrates the high regard held for females in the touch football world, a sport that has for its SO-year history provided an even playing field for both genders.
"Touch football has plenty of strong Indigenous leaders in its midst, male and female, and Bo de la Cruz and Mel Mitchell were simply the two strongest coaches to lead the 2019 iteration of this Indigenous All-Stars team.
"We're really looking forward to seeing them and their team in action at AAMI Park on 1 Slh February."
Touch football has huge Indigenous Australian participation rates - of the 679,000 Australians who take part in NRL Touch Football, 63,826 identify as Indigenous. That's almost 10% of Touch Footballers.
So it's no surprise that Indigenous Australians make up a large portion of our most elite touch football teams, those who play for Australia in World Cups and Trans-Tasmans.
Half of the 12-member Indigenous Australian Touch team that will compete in the All-Stars event play Touch for Australia.
The Maori All-Stars Touch team also packs star-studded punch, with a total of nine Touch athletes who have represented Australia, including Jordan Marshall-King, who is the younger brother of Wests Tigers' NRL star Benji Marshall.
The Maori team will be led by Tristan Mana, an elite Kiwi Touch Football player who has 26 caps for New Zealand.
The Touch All-Stars match will tap off at 4pm, followed by the NRL Wand NRL All-Stars matches.Tickets are available at Ticketek.
Here are the full team lists:
Indigenous Australian Mixed Touch Team
Head Coach/Player: Bo de la Cruz
Assistant Coach: Mel Mitchell
Maori Mixed Touch Team
Head Coach: Tristan Mana
Assistant Coach: Edith Nathan
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Two highly respected Indigenous Australian women, Bo de la Cruz and Mel Mitchell, will lead the Indigenous Australian Mixed Touch team when they go up against their Maori counterparts in the elite Touch Football curtain-raiser to the 2019 NRL All-Stars at AAMI Park on Friday 15th February.
De la Cruz, the celebrated multi-code football player, who was formerly named National Indigenous Sportswoman of the Year, will lead the mixed team as Head Coach/Player. De la Cruz has represented Australia in both Touch Football and Rugby Sevens and won World Cups in both.
Mel Mitchell, a NSW Touch State of Origin athlete who, as Team Manager, helped lead the Australian teams to victory at the Youth Touch World Cup in Malaysia last year, will be the team's Assistant Coach