On a night the Hockeyroos wore their Indigenous uniform to promote National Reconciliation Week (NRW), it was befitting Parkes' Mariah Williams would score a scintillating goal and make a successful return to international hockey.
A proud Indigenous woman who is a member of the Wiradjuri people (the largest Aboriginal tribe in central New South Wales), Williams was instrumental in helping the Hockeyroos recover from two goals down to draw with New Zealand in Match 2 of the Trans-Tasman Series on Saturday night.
She provided the assist for Steph Kershaw's goal before scoring herself courtesy of a sensational tomahawk.
After being out of action for eight months with stress fractures, Williams was building up well before hyper extending her knee in a squad game against the Under 18 WA Men's team weeks before the current series against the Blacksticks.
But having recovered from that latest setback, Williams was back and excited to be playing again. She certainly did not look rusty after smashing home the Hockeyroos' equaliser.
"I knew I got to the other side of (Blacksticks defender) Kayla Whitelock, so I just thought I'm going to put this ball into the back of the net as hard as I can...and thankfully it came off," recalled Williams of her goal.
"Normally mine (tomahawks) go low but that one went high into the corner so I was pretty happy where it finished."
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Making it even more special was that the Hockeyroos played in the Indigenous uniform specially designed by Australia's first Indigenous Olympic gold medallist and former Hockeyroo Nova Peris OAM, plus artwork by Indigenous artist Nathan Patterson.
Peris painted and designed the uniforms for Hockey Australia's inaugural FIH Pro League Indigenous Round in March last year.
With this year's NRW running from May 17-23, the Hockeyroos decided to wear the uniform against New Zealand in recognition of the importance of the relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Williams, who is also an ambassador of the AIS Share a Yarn initiative, said it is important to drive awareness and understanding of NRW.
"National Reconciliation Week is a time for learning, sharing and celebrating the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their culture and their history.
"As elite athletes who get to represent our country, we as Hockeyroos have the ability to raise awareness of this.
"For me National Reconciliation Week is a time to reflect and commit to equality," said Williams.
What a fantastic ambassador she is for Parkes, Wiradjuri peoples and Australia.
Game 1: Hockeyroos 1 (Malone 26') drew with New Zealand 1 (Shannon 48')
Game 2: Hockeyroos 2 (Kershaw 38', Williams 55') drew with New Zealand 2 (Smith 11', Dickins 35')
Game 3: Hockeyroos 2 (M.Fitzpatrick 7', Malone 58') drew with New Zealand 2 (King 23', Gunson 41')
It will all be on the line when Game 4 takes place tonight.
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