TO say Dallas Kirby is bursting with enthusiasm and passion to be part of the first ever Indigenous team at the upcoming Australian Men’s Mixed Netball Association championships is an understatement.

Not only is his participation within the team history making, it also ticks off one of his goals on his list of things he wants to achieve.

Kirby (PICTURED) grew up surrounded by sport – you name it; basketball, netball, tennis or touch football, it was part of his life.

But it wasn’t until he was 14 and at boarding school that he fell in love with netball.

It’s a passion, he said, that has continued for 20 years, and doesn’t look like fizzling out.

“As a male in a female dominated sport, opportunities to participate in the sport are sporadic, so every chance I get I take,”Kirby told Mildura Weekly earlier this week.

“I have played for many clubs including Premier League in Sydney.

“About five years ago I started travelling to South Australia to play for the Southern Dragons.”

(The Southern Dragons Men’s and Mixed Netball have a history of producing some of the best men’s and mixed netballers in Australia and participate annually in the AMMNA competition.)

“Each weekend I would make the trip from Mildura to Adelaide to train, but unfortunately with an injury the first two years and COVID impacting on the sport for the next two years, it has meant I have never made it to the final step,” Kirby continued.

“This year is symbolic for me not just because I am representing my Indigenous community but because it will finally be the year I can compete in the tournament.”

Kirby typically plays Goal Attack (GA) but said a one of his strengths is his versatility and he can play any position on court.

As for what he loves about the game – he said he loves the fact it can change in almost a blink of an eye.

“Being a couple of goals down in the last quarter is nothing,” he said.

“A couple of turnovers and all of a sudden you can be in the lead.”

Despite an extensive background in netball – both in coaching and on court, Kirby said his biggest achievement has been coaching his “much loved” Mallee Tigers.

“This is an Indigenous team and we compete in Victoria against many other Indigenous community teams,” he explained about the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited coordinated and hosted event.

“In 2018 I was able to coach a team who brought home the flag,” Kirby said.

“It was the first flag won by the team in 30 years of the competition.”

The AMMNA event Kirby will play in from April 17 to 23, at Priceline Stadium, Adelaide, is held every year.

Teams play up to twice a day and the championship is contested over a number of divisions, including Open Mens, Reserve Mens, Open Mix, Reserve Mix, Under 23 Mens and Under 20 Mens.

The competition is held in a different State each year and each State competes, along with the Australian Defence Force entering teams.

“This is the first year that Sports Culture and Leadership Academy (SCALA) has entered an all Indigenous team into the competition,” Kirby said.

“This is a massive opportunity to showcase the Indigenous community.

“The team, First Nations Fusion, is brain child of Aunty Roma and Sharon Finnan-White (OAM).

“Sharon who was the first Aboriginal woman to be selected and play for the Australian Diamonds.

“Both Aunty Roma and Sharon are observing the coaching and operations of the team as they are based in Townsville.

“We are fortunate enough to be coached by Leticia Rickett, a local SA based Indigenous women.”

From the championship, Kirby hopes to achieve a position in the Men’s or Mixed over 30s Australian squad, but said having the opportunity to showcase Indigenous athletes at an elite level is also an achievement as they are often underrepresented.

“There are currently only two Indigenous Players in the Suncorp Super Netball,” Kirby said.

– ZOEY ANDREWS