Sabrin Nyawela hasn’t travelled the conventional football route, but it hasn’t stopped her from progressing to become one of the brightest female talents in the Wyndham region.
Having immigrated to Australia from South Sudan in 2003, the 19-year-old had no exposure to Aussie rules in her formative years, but she found herself drawn to the game when her brother signed up with Wyndham Vale as a junior in 2010.
“We had an oval across the road, so I’d go over and be a water person or something like that,” Nyawela recalls.
“I was approached by one of the Wyndham Vale coaches and asked if I wanted to try it out, so I just jumped straight into it.”
Nyawela took to football like a duck to water, not only developing into an outstanding player but also demonstrating a deeper understanding of the game in an off-field capacity.
Having lined up for Werribee’s girls’ team at three successive Unity Cups, during which she won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 and the competition’s most valuable player award in 2016, she this year took on the task of coaching the side, guiding the girls into third place.
“It’s so good,” she says of the experience. “You get to really see where they started off and guide them through certain things that they already take on themselves.
“It’s so good to see them develop slowly and see them be successful.”
Nyawela has also stepped up her on-field performance in the last 12 months, playing for VU Western Spurs in the inaugural VFL Women’s, a competition she describes as “hard, intense footy”.
But her biggest opportunity will come on Easter Sunday, when she will again have the chance to represent her local area by lining up for a Werribee women’s side that will take on Geelong in Torquay and share centre stage with the men’s side as they kick off their VFL season.
“It’s amazing,” Nyawela says of the chance to don the Tigers colours again. “It’s just the perfect place to showcase talent, and with the women’s league creeping in, it’s the perfect opportunity.”
While the match has exhibition status only, Werribee is hoping it will provide the impetus required to establish a permanent VFL Women’s presence within the next few years.
It’s a move Nyawela would support wholeheartedly and one she believes has the potential to drive further interest in the game from young girls in the Wyndham region.
“Yeah, definitely; [young girls] seeing someone from my suburb building up a team there and hopefully seeing them form a VFL women’s team, that will just branch [that interest] out.”
Nyawela will line up for Werribee against Geelong on April 16 at Spring Creek Reserve. The women’s match will kick off at 5pm and follow the men's match at 2pm.