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Sport

20 September, 2020

Hawks coach flies high

The AFL Womens competition has come a long way in the past 6 years and Manunda Hawks playing coach Kareena White has had a big say in that both on and off the field.

By Brad Sinclair

White moved to Port Douglas in 2005 from a small town Whorouly which is 279 kms north east of Melbourne with a population of 376. She had always wanted to move to Queensland and due to her father having contacts in Port Douglas, that was the town chosen. 

She started her football journey in her small hometown at the tender age of 7 in the local Auskick program but with such a small population there weren’t many girls playing the game. 

 After Under 15’s at the time when women had no where to play so she took up umpiring to stay in touch with the game. Once she had settled into life in FNQ she realised that Cairns was the place for her and the following year in 2006, she made the move and went about finding a local football club. 

 That local club ended up being the Manunda Hawks and she has never thought of playing anywhere else. “Where I come from in country Victoria, you play for one club and never move.” 

 “Even if you move an hour from home to live, you still travel back and play for your home club.” It’s a loyalty that you immediately recognise in her when you sit down and talk, whether it be work, friends or her sporting club you can tell she is immensely loyal. 

 White was one of the big pushers of having the women's competition moved from a Summer competition where they were playing on grounds that were sometimes roped off in the middle of the ground due to cricket wickets, to a Winter competition and played prior to the men. In 2014 that was achieved and they now play on the same day as the rest of the senior grades. 

White rates this the biggest positive change to AFL womens football in Cairns as now, “we have players playing the game they really love the code, not just having a run around in the off season of Summer.” Right now she sees the next move needs to be better media coverage of the sport. 

“Womens football is a bit of an afterthought from the people that run the game up here, they have this mentality of we’ll deal with the Senior Mens and then the Colts first and I feel we’re a bit of a nuisance to them.” “But the inception of the game at a national level and the media coverage they get is helping us and hopefully it filters through to here.

” Let’s remember too that these girls don’t get paid and raising funds isn’t easy as some sponsors will tell you they might not get bang for buck with the women in regards to media exposure for them. So, it’s been sausage sizzles and raffle tickets to keep them afloat. Also “we have a terrific major sponsor in Kenfrost Homes, without them and the Red Beret Hotel along with other local companies that have helped out it would be very difficult.” 

 On the field they don’t come much better than White who has a football resume many men would envy. She has played in 3 premierships with her beloved Hawks, 2015, 2016 & 2018. The last two she coached as well, she has won the League goalkicking on 5 occasions, 3 club best and fairests and has played over 170 games which is the most of any Manunda Hawk. 

 The 34 year old doesn’t look like retiring anytime soon either and has her sights on another cup in 2020 with her team sitting second on the table percentage behind the Cairns City Lions. One thing is for certain the recent 2nd placed BestCoach In FNQ of any sport male or female will be doing is what it takes to get her girls over the line in the last game of the year. 

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