After winning the Ron Evans Leadership Grant, Tiwi Bombers Youth Girls Coach, Karina Gray, talks about what it means to her, the football club and young people in the Territory.
BY DAVE KENNEDY
Karina Gray has long been a passionate contributor to football in the Top End, but lately her work has received wider praise.
Gray, who is the current coach of the Youth Girls team, was recently awarded the ‘Ron Evans Leadership Grant’ by the Essendon Football Club.
Awarded since 2007, the grant recognises the leadership skills of players, athletes and administrators at the Essendon Football Club and its affiliated football and sporting clubs.
Essendon Football Club president, Paul Little, presented Gray with the award last week.
“It was a really big honour and an amazing opportunity to receive it at the Essendon Football Club AGM and represent the NT,” Gray said
Gray was nominated by the Tiwi Bombers Football Club; a club she has been involved with for almost eight years.
Along with coaching the Tiwi Bombers Youth Girls side, Gray’s own company, Starwin Management, has also worked closely with the club to ensure that various social outcomes are achieved.
Starwin Management is a social enterprise that aims to create positive social change in an economically sustainable way and operates with the clear vision of: “celebrating champions, creating change and collaborating with community”.
Along with other locally based programs and initiatives, Starwin has been able to implement the Tiwi Bombers Youth Girls Leadership program, which complements the footballing endeavours of the young women that are part of the team.
“With the Youth Girls, our main focus is on retaining them in education. We’ve deliberately targeted mostly 12, 13, 14 year old girls so that they can stay in the team and the program for the next couple of years with a view that they can make that transition into Women’s AFL and NT rep sides, but the biggest thing is definitely the education and wellbeing outcomes,” Gray said.
In just their first season, the Tiwi Bombers Youth Girls team is flying, and as the ladder stands at Christmas, they sit just one win away from top spot.
But for Gray, the more pleasing aspect has been the transformational effect that she and others have seen occur in the girls since they commenced in the program.
“The outcomes we’ve seen in just a few months have been really positive. Over half the team has been awarded school awards, whether it’s in the boarding house, leadership, academic or sports awards.
“A lot of the boarding house staff have reported to us that the change in the attitude and persona of the young women and their aptitude for schooling has changed even during the short time they’ve been involved in the program.”
Moving forward, Gray will use the grant money to attend a forum in Oregon, United States, known as the
B Corp Champions Retreat.
The annual event gathers global business leaders who share Gray’s community mantra and leadership vision.
“Attending this event will allow me connect with national and international business networks who can provide guidance about developing our social enterprise model and improving our social impact.
“This will help us to continue strengthening our community initiatives including the Tiwi Bombers Youth Girls Leadership Program.”