Lateesha Jeffrey & daughter Kimara
Bull Sharks AFL teams were meant to don the club’s away strip this weekend, until Lateesha Jeffrey had a better idea.
The seniors’ workhorse took to her club’s Facebook page to ask players if they would support wearing their Indigenous guernseys to celebrate NAIDOC Week. Everyone answered in the affirmative.
“It’s a proud week for any Aboriginal person, especially me,” said Jeffrey, a Woolwonga and Kukatj woman, who was raised on Larrakia and Yolngu land.
“I thought what better opportunity to wear it than during NAIDOC Week, because one of our games for Indigenous round was washed out. We did make up that game, but it was removed from that historic Sir Doug Nicholls Round.”
The 30-year-old has played six matches for the Bull Sharks since joining the club in round four this season.
She moved to the Yugambeh region with daughter Kimara from the Northern Territory where she played for 10 years, becoming a popular face and an AFLNT Life Member.
Her father Russell Jeffrey played AFL for St Kilda and the Brisbane Bears, while brother Joel Jeffrey and her partner Jy Farrar play for the Gold Coast Suns.
“In the Northern Territory football is very significant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she explained.
“Everyone has some kind of connection to footy and it’s almost become embedded in our culture. Whether you are a player, a family member, a spectator, running water or coaching a lot of us are involved in some way shape or form.”
Naturally when she arrived at the Bull Sharks, coaching staff were eager to see her play.
She flew down on a Tuesday night, trained Thursday, and was then named for Saturday’s senior team.
Friendships she formed with a set of talented twins in North Queensland also prompted her move to the Gold Coast.
“It was crazy,” she said.
“I ended up reaching out to the Bull Sharks because Laquoiya and Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap were playing for Bond and I wanted to link up with them because I played with them in the Cairns league, I was a fly-in-fly-out player from Darwin.”
Jeffrey, who lives in Upper Coomera, said the Bull Sharks made her transition seamless.
“Southport would be a closer club for me but I love the feel of Bond and I think I’m definitely set for a couple more seasons at least,” she said.
“It feels like it’s almost an elite level because there is so much support and the training is really high quality, we also have good depth here so it’s been really nice.”
Away from the football field Jeffrey runs her own consultancy, Wave of Change. She is also developing her coaching skills with the Suns.
This Saturday against Apsley she wants her team to stamp out lapses in defence to avoid having to play catch-up.
“Top six on the ladder is really close, it’s almost anyone’s game when it comes to finals,” she said.
“I know our goal is to try to push to second so if we win these next couple of games, we can secure that second spot.”