A record-breaking cohort of 16 First Nations athletes and 10 First Nations mentors have been selected for the prestigious AIS 2023 Share a Yarn Program (SaY). Among them, Tomysha Clark, a two-time Oceania Athletics Champion and proud Woromi and Wannarua woman, was inspired to become a SaY ambassador following the loss of her grandmother. Determined to fill the gap in her family's Indigenous heritage, Tomysha embraces this opportunity to deeply connect with her culture and continue her learning journey.
At the core of the Australian Institute of Sport's SaY program lies the significance of connection with country and culture. Over the course of 12 months, elite First Nations athletes are offered meaningful opportunities to build relationships with each other, while simultaneously discovering more about their roots, culture, and country.
The 2023 SaY program will witness a remarkable gathering of 16 athlete ambassadors, including accomplished individuals like Mariah Williams, a Hockeyroo and two-time Olympian, and Clarence McCarthy-Grogan, a wheelchair basketball player for the Australian Rollers.
Bianca Broadhurst, the AIS Diversity, People, and Culture Executive General Manager, highlights the significance of connection and belonging for athletes to thrive at their best. The SaY program provides a safe and respectful space for First Nations athletes to come together, share their stories, and strengthen their support networks across the sports world with the guidance of First Nations mentors and non-Indigenous allies.
As a SaY mentor, Ben Austin OAM, one of Australia's most decorated Para-swimmers and a three-time Paralympian, aims to use his experience to guide mentees through their cultural and athletic journey. Tahlia Taylor-Kickett, another mentor and Proud Noongar woman, emphasizes the importance of keeping the athletes culturally strong, grounded, and safe while prioritizing their sporting careers.
The 2023 cohort will partake in online mentoring sessions before gathering at the AIS in Canberra later this year for a cultural camp. This exceptional program promises to uplift and empower First Nations athletes, fostering a sense of connection, growth, and cultural identity. Follow the link to discover more about the SaY program and its 2023 cohort.
AIS SaY 2023 Athlete Ambassadors:
Aaleya Turner, Kaurna - Netball
Abbey Connor, Manildra - Swimming
Amanda Reid, Wemba-Wemba and Guringai - Cycling and Snow Sport
Bianca Crisp, Wiradjuri - Swimming
Bronte Stewart, Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi - Cycling
Calab Law, Wakka Wakka - Athletics
Clarence McCarthy-Grogan, Yanyuwa, Garrawa and Kuku Yalanji - Basketball
Emilia Murray, Yorta Yorta and Dhudhuroa - Football
Emily Watts, Wiradjuri - Cycling
Mariah Williams, Wiradjuri - Hockey
Marissa Williamson Pohlman, Ngarrindjeri - Boxing
Ruby Storm, Wiradjuri - Swimming
Sarah Haywood - Archery
Tay-Leiha Clark, Worimi and Wannarua - Athletics
Tomysha Clark, Worimi and Wannarua - Athletics
Tyler Puzicha, Wurundjeri - Cycling
AIS SaY 2023 Mentors:
Ben Austin - Swimming
Brad Hore - Boxing
Danny Morseu - Basketball
Jacara Egan - AFL
Jess Skinner - Rugby League
Kyle Vander Kuyp - Athletics
Patrick Johnson - Athletics
Tahlia Taylor-Kickett - Football
Tanisha Williams - Multiple
Tyrone Bean – AFL
AIS SaY 2023 Allies:
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Photo Courtesy Australian Sports Commission
Courtesy Australian Sports Commission