Kaurna Boomerangs skating from strength to strength
Australia’s first representative Indigenous ice hockey team, the Kaurna Boomerangs from Adelaide have just returned from their international debut in Alberta, Canada.
First formed in late 2017, the team was set up as a way to keep youth together and off the streets.
The team has gone from strength to strength having played their first ever games in the Division 1 Ice Factor Challenge Cup in 2018 and participating in the 2019 Arafura Cup in Darwin.
In Canada, the team played against local ice hockey teams and were thrilled to train at Rogers Place, the homeground of National Hockey League (NHL) professional ice hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers.
Head Coach Justine Shaw said that the team was overwhelmed by the positive reception they received while in Canada.
'None of my players would have ever played for a crowd as large as that before, let alone a crowd of people wanting their autographs and wanting to know more about them as people.'
The team also participated in cultural exchanges with members of the Cree nation in the communities of Maskwacis and Calling Lake.
One of the youngest team members, Jymain O’Neill, aged 14, said the visits to these communities were the best part of the trip because they all enjoyed themselves and “to see everyone smiling was so good”.
'Playing outside with the -35°C temperature and the moon in the background was an experience I will never forget’ Assistant Team Captain Marko Komazec said.
Assistant Team Captain Caleb Burgoyne said 'being able to engage with the community through sports or culture both on and off the ice’ was one of the most memorable experiences of their trip to Canada.
The team are keen to encourage other young people to join ice hockey in Australia. Team captain Michael Burgoyne gives one simple piece of advice to people interested in ice hockey – 'Don't think about it. Just do it'.
The Boomerangs hope to continue these international exchanges. Plans are currently underway with teams in New Zealand and they hope to host the teams they played in Canada soon and 'hopefully repay their amazing hospitality'.