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Making Her Mark: The program making a difference

Womens.afl travelled with Garnduwa to Halls Creek and Balgo in November to observe the work they do bringing women's footy to the area through this pilot program

Words: Sarah Black. Photos: Abby Morgan

WEST Coast recruit Cassie Davidson has been working with Garnduwa, an Aboriginal non-profit delivering sport and recreation programs to Indigenous people in remote communities in the Kimberley region.

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"The Making Her Mark program is a pilot initiative that Garnduwa has put together, which they did a great job at delivering. It's pretty much a program that helps and engages Indigenous women in the communities through women's footy. We're building leadership skills within the communities as well," Davidson said.

"We're engaging through leadership and AFLW. We'll do a skills session of footy, give them some awareness afterwards into hygiene, preparation for games and training, things like that, what to eat and what not to."

"We'll get into some leadership workshops: what does leadership look like for women in the community and how can that be built into their own existing leadership."

Off the footy field, Davidson, a Noongar woman from Mandurah, works for the Wirrpanda foundation and as a mentor for its Deadly Sista Girlz program, working with fellow young Indigenous girls.

She's now been on three "Making Her Mark" trips within the space of three or four months with Garnduwa, all across the Kimberley: Yiyili, Warmun, Wyndham, Fitzroy Crossing, Noonkanbha, Beagle Bay, Bidyadanga, and in November, Balgo and Halls Creek, where these pictures were taken.

"I've worked in girls' academies as well, and a lot of the work I do is in my community and helping Indigenous kids, it's something I'm really passionate about. When Garnduwa approached me, I was all in for it."

It's been a tough year for Davidson on the footy field. After playing all 14 games for Fremantle in 2017 and 2018, a combination of issues meant she was unable to play in 2019.

"I had some personal off-field issues off the back-end of the year, so coming into 2019, it was a pretty difficult year to get into. I probably should have taken time away from footy. A few injuries going on there, and by the time I got up, I wasn't in the right headspace to play."

"Footy was my outlet when other things weren't going right, and then when I got injured, I didn't have any outlet, so I was trying to find the balance between it all."

She was traded to West Coast mid-year to be part of the club's inaugural AFLW side for a fresh start and has now resumed training.

"I hope the Making Her Mark program gets the support it needs and hopefully goes ahead, as it was a pilot program. They're doing great things up in the Kimberley, and I think it's a good exposure for women's footy up there."

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