Successful UAA/NIAS Indigenous Talent Identification Day Unveils Regional Talent and Dean Widders' Mentorship

The Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) proudly reports a highly successful UAA/NIAS Indigenous Talent Identification Day, held on Wednesday, 26th June at Armidale Secondary College. This annual event, dedicated to nurturing Indigenous athletic talent, drew enthusiastic participation from over 60 young athletes across the Northern Inland region, commenced with a Welcome to Country by Anaiwan elder, Uncle Steve Widders in a culturally significant space, the yarning circle at the College. 

The event, attended by NIAS success story and NRL legend Dean Widders, provided a platform for aspiring Indigenous athletes aged 13 to 16 to showcase their skills. Dean Widders, who served as a guest coach and mentor, shared his expertise and motivational insights with the participants throughout the day.

“We were thrilled to see such a strong turnout and level of talent among the young athletes,” said Shona Eichorn, CEO of NIAS. “Dean Widders’ presence was invaluable, inspiring our athletes and reinforcing the importance of perseverance, dedication and making good choices in pursuing their sporting dreams. Dean’s poignant message of ensuring athletes balanced their sport with their education off the field was significant”.

The day featured various sports activities, fitness testing, and interactive coaching sessions led by Dean Widders and other experienced coaches from NIAS. Participants engaged in spirited competition and benefited from personalised feedback aimed at enhancing their athletic abilities.

Dean Widders commented on the event, stating, “It was fantastic to witness the passion and potential in these young athletes. Events like these are crucial for providing opportunities and support to Indigenous athletes from regional areas.”

The UAA/NIAS Indigenous Talent Identification Day also highlighted the ongoing commitment of NIAS to foster talent and provide pathways for Indigenous youth in sports. Selected athletes from the event will receive invitations to join the NIAS Sports Programs selection trials later this year, continuing their development under the guidance of NIAS coaches.

“We are dedicated to supporting these athletes as they progress in their sporting journeys,” added Nicole Wong, Programs Manager at NIAS. “The UAA day not only identifies talent but also instills confidence and encourages a sense of community among participants.”