INDIGENOUS netball star Beryl Friday is blazing a trail for young Indigenous girls at Cleveland through the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy.
Friday, who played in two ANZ Championship-winning seasons with the Queensland Firebirds, has been announced as the newest ambassador for the Girls Academy.
She joined Broncos legend Justin Hodges at Cleveland District State High School on February 2 to welcome new arrivals to the Academy.
The program includes in-school mentoring and support, programs and workshops on topics like culture and identity, and rewards for attendance and behaviour.
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It aims to improve school attendance, increase confidence and foster leadership in young Indigenous girls.
Friday said she was honoured to be an ambassador for Beyond the Broncos and a mentor for young First Nations women.
"Education is one of the most important tools women can have," she said.
"This generation of Indigenous women are no longer denied their rights to higher education and the sky really is the limit.
"Both my parents experienced racism growing up and my mum was unfortunately not allowed to finish school. She returned to TAFE as a middle-aged student to finish her certificates, and now holds a degree."
Friday said the program gave Indigenous girls the tools to face day-to-day problems they experienced.
"It's really important that we empower them both as students and culturally," she said.
Cleveland Year 8 student Ngaire Monaei said she had loved the supportive environment in Tuesday's workshop, the first for the year.
"I felt confident standing in front of everyone, which I'm not used to," she said.
"It was different ... it felt really good."
More than 30 students took part in the session.
They were among 700 girls who joined the program for the first time in 2021.
Friday, a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in Australian sport, said education set children up to make better decisions.
"Education sets up our kids to make better informed decisions, which can lead to changes that can benefit them now and in our future generations," she said.
In 2015, playing for the Firebirds, Friday was the only Aboriginal woman in the ANZ netball championships.
She was instrumental in the creation of Netball Queensland's Indigenous Advisory Committee.
Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy was established in 2016.