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Aboriginal Australian cricketer, Faith Thomas (b. 1933), was in a children’s home as a child. 

Faith Coulthard was born to an Adnyamathanha woman and a German migrant. Her mother, Ivy, did not think the Nepabunna Aboriginal mission was the right place for her daughter. So, she placed her in the Colebrook Children’s Home in Quorn, also in South Australia. 

Thomas recalls her time at Colebrook with great fondness. 

I ended up with three wonderful mums – Sister Hyde, Sister Anna and my natural mum. I suppose I was one of the lucky ones. Had I not been in Colebrook, I would’ve never had the opportunities I did have. I consider myself not stolen but chosen. 

Thomas attributes her cricket skills to life in Colebrook, where the children made their own cricket bats and used round stones as balls. She learned to bowl bychuckin’ rocks at galahs.” 

Kids these days have got toys, we had nothing. We lived near a creek. There were plenty of rocks and plenty of galahs in those trees. 

You didn’t need to take a run-up to knock a galah out of the sky. You just picked up a rock and let it fly (Jackson). 

Thomas was one of the first six Aboriginal nurses in Australia and South Australia’s first Aboriginal public servant. She graduated from the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1954, trained as a midwife at the old Queen Victoria hospital, then worked at the Point McLeay Aboriginal Reserve. 

While working as a midwife, Thomas found out it was possible for women to play cricket. After going out to play for the first time with a workmate on a Saturday, she was soon playing for the state and the country. 

In 1958, Thomas became the first Aboriginal Australian to represent Australia in any sport, playing cricket for Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane against England. Her motivation was a sheer love of the game. 

We got out there and we played for the fun of it. With all the money around now they have play to win (Jackson). 

Thomas played her final game in the 1960s while married and eight months pregnant. She continued with a highly successful career in Aboriginal health and community services. Thomas was in charge of the Indigenous ward at the Alice Springs Hospital for two years, which she feels is one of her greatest life achievements.  

Cricket is just a sport, but I have looked after a lot of Aboriginal people. It’s really special (ANMF).

Faith Thomas is a Member of the Order of Australia, an inductee into South Australian Cricket Association’s Wall of Fame, and the annual Faith Thomas Trophy match is played in her honour. She is also known for recognising the skills of Aboriginal healers who understand the interweaving of Aboriginal values, spirituality, and culture.  

References: 

“A Test star who chose nursing over cricket.” Australian Midwifery and Nursing Federation. SA Branch. 9 November 2020. https://savesaservices.com.au/Web/News/2020/A_Test_star_who_chose_nursing_over_cricket.aspx 

“Biographical Entry Thomas, Faith (1933-).” Encyclopedia of Australian Science. https://www.eoas.info/biogs/P004111b.htm 

“Colebrook Home (1927 – 1981).” Find & Connect, 2021. https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE00138 

George, Gary. “Nepabunna Mission (1931 – 1977).” Find & Connect, 2014.  https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/sa/biogs/SE01326b.htm 

Jackson, Russell. “Aboriginal cricket pioneer Faith Thomas: ‘I’m still the fastest woman bowler ever.” The Guardian, 23 December 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/23/aboriginal-cricket-pioneer-faith-thomas-im-still-the-fastest-woman-bowler-ever 

“Message Stick; Faith Thomas.” ABC Television, 2004. 

“Nepabunna Mission (1931-1977).” Find & Connect, 2021. https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE01326

“Point McLeay Mission Station (1859-1974).” Find & Connect, 2022. https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/sa/biogs/SE01329b.htm 

Image available here.