IWC sponsorship: 'Footy means love, family, friends'

WHEN Brothers Aston Villa Women’s Football team takes to the pitch, it means a lot to the players.

“Women’s football adds a range of things to the Bundaberg community - showing the young girls around Bundaberg that we support them in playing football,” said Team Captain Hayley Sparozvich.

For one team member, 20-year-old Kiama Theuerkauf-Smith, it also has deeper meaning.

“Football in Bundaberg means love, family and making friends for lifetime and, importantly ‘because of her, we can’,” said Kiama, echoing the theme of the 2018 NAIDOC celebrations. She is a member of the Wakka Wakka tribe from the North Burnett, and was just named Bundaberg NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year 2018.

“Women’s football is an important part of my life, and has been very empowering.”

IWC is sponsoring the team, which started almost half a century ago and sits within the Brothers Aston Villa Football Club. In 2017, Brothers Aston Villa Football Club became an official partner of Aston Villa Football Club in the UK.

Hayley said the players were delighted to be sponsored by IWC, a non-government, community-run organisation.

“IWC has saved us from being in the dark as a woman’s football team,” she said. “Sponsorship helps the club financially because we need equipment and playing strips, as well as paying subscription fees and referees. Without sponsorship, clubs would struggle.”

IWC CEO Ara Harathunian said sponsoring the team was in line with the organisation’s core business of empowering the community around health and wellbeing.

The team is inclusive of all women, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous players of all ages and skills. Hayley said they would like to get more players.

“We are a community club and we invite anyone of any age or background, and regardless of their level of skill, into our club,” said Hayley. “We also encourage spectators.

“The community atmosphere is something you need to experience for yourself. Come and watch - you won’t be disappointed.”

She said the past two years had been tough for the women’s team, with some players leaving to concentrate on studies or because they have moved out of the area.

“But our team is committed to keeping this team moving forward, and we welcome anyone who would like to ‘have a go’,” said Hayley.

So, with their sponsorship used to purchase new strip, proudly emblazoned with IWC’s logo, they are looking to the future.

“Our ambition for the team is to keep playing strongly, stay true and, most of all, enjoy the game,” said Hayley. “And, hopefully, we will win a Grand Final. That will happen because we work hard and have the community behind us.”

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