Montage of the Marshall family

Sporting clubs connect people to their communities — especially in the regions.

The Marshalls can attest to that. The Margaret River family are well entrenched in their local sporting clubs through KidSport, and they’ve developed valuable social networks as a result. 

Eleka and Ylori Marshall are a part of their local underwater hockey club, along with mum Emma who also happens to be the club’s volunteer secretary. Emma’s eldest daughter Shaya used to play, but now plays football for a local club.

“Underwater hockey is a unique sport that draws people from all walks of life,” said Emma. “It’s not unusual in a social game at our club to have people of all levels, all genders and an age range from 13 to 60+ playing together. This creates a diverse and accepting environment.”

“I have met some wonderful women who I see as excellent role models for my three daughters, and have also enjoyed assisting and mentoring junior players and their families in my role.”

“In Shaya’s football club, both her coach and manager were men who took on volunteer roles and showed so much enthusiasm and support for all the young players in their team.”

“I was so grateful — as a single mum this offered my daughter some wonderful male role models outside of our home. I felt a sense of relief to have community members helping my daughters. Their willingness to support the girls’ team gave the young players a real sense of pride and self-worth,” said Emma.

KidSport was a huge help to Emma. It provided opportunities for all three kids to be part of a sporting team.

“It meant I could afford for all three children to participate in team sports, which has been vital for us in feeling a part of a community and building confidence and personal wellbeing.” 

“I’ve seen a growth in my children’s confidence physically and socially. The connections and routines connected to their sports have helped all of us at some tough times of change in our life.”

“While we try to keep our costs to a minimum, KidSport funding makes it possible for families such as mine to participate. This is so valuable both for fitness, but also for connection within the community,” said Emma.

For Shaya, Eleka and Ylori, they could get on with being kids by getting out there and enjoying their sports.

“I find football allows me to forget the stress of school and work. It helps me to stay fit and happy as the environment is so welcoming,” said Shaya. “I feel empowered when I play because women never used to be able to participate in football. I can see how much I can push myself and what my limits are.”

“I like how unique underwater hockey is and how there is no talking under water,” said Eleka. “When I play I feel excited, energetic, happy, flexible — like I’m floating. I did not know about the funding until now as mum organised it, I just played my sport.”

Page reviewed 18 November 2021