Meet the inspirational Monique, who's big passion is introducing little ones to Touch. She runs her club based on Maori cultural principles and it's helped her create a welcoming, inclusive community that's all about family, looking after young and old and supporting each other.
Affiliate: Perth Brothers Touch
How did you first get involved in Touch Football?
My earliest memories are from the 70s when I watched my Dad play Touch with his Rugby League mates. In the 80s and 90s I played socially. After that I moved to Manager roles for my husband’s teams. Then we had family teams ‘whanua souljahs’ ‒ all our four children play and their dad (once or twice every couple of seasons I might run on for half a set, but that’s rare).
Which associations have you been involved at?
I played in the early years in Newcastle, NSW, and in adult life in Perth at Rosalie. My husband and kids have played at different affiliates – Southern, Northern, Ellenbrook, Wanneroo – but our hearts are at Perth Brothers. I took over the running of that club about 10 years ago, when the founders Pammy and Russel moved on after the first 10 years.
Tell us about your approach to running the club.
Our club has a strong cultural base (Maori). Our founders started the club to keep our Maori people living in Perth connected to one another and their culture. These cultural links remain strong drivers of our approach. Our club's approach is based on the concepts of Manaakitanga (welcoming, including and looking after people), Whanau (a love for our families and people, looking after our young and old) and Tautoko (support for one another). We have a strong Maori presence across our club however we also have a number of members and supporters from many other cultures who love the vibe and approach of our club. Over the years we have made a big difference in the lives of many young people and families. We run our club to keep our young people strong and connected. We want them to love Touch Football, but we also want them to learn how to work with others, how to communicate and how to manage setbacks, defeat and, most importantly, how to be a part of something. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute; as the kids grow they learn how to avoid my eye as I ask for a job to be done to keep our club moving. I am known as ‘Aunty Mon’, I have seen many of the young ones grow, some have married and have come back with their own children to play.
What developments are you proud of implementing at the club?
I'm really proud of our success across the elite sport, we have three players who have played for Australia from our tiny club: Charli Stephenson, Tristan Broadbridge and Tyla Love. We have other players like Trileen Pomare who have gone on to represent Australia in Rugby. We have a really strong development approach and set high expectations for our young ones, many play from a young age in our senior competition and thrive. We are blessed with talented dedicated coaches and leadership teams and a core of referees. I coach our Under-6s - bringing kids from 3 years and up and introducing them to our sport is my happy place. I love it.
What is your Touch Football highlight so far?
Attending the NYC in 2019 and watching the WA Men’s team and my son playing, as well as watching my daughter referee. It was awesome and just before COVID-19 hit and stopped travel. I love Touch - love the people, love to watch the game!