Australian sporting pioneer Faith Thomas passes away aged 90

Australian sporting pioneer Faith Thomas passes away aged 90

Australian sporting pioneer Faith Thomas has passed away aged 90.

Cricket Australia and the South Australian Cricket Association has confirmed that Thomas (nee Coulthard), the first Aboriginal woman to play for an Australian sports team, passed away on Saturday.

Thomas, born in 1933 in Nepabunna, represented Australia in an Ashes Test at Melbourne’s Junction Oval in 1958, receiving baggy green number 48.

She was the first of four Indigenous Australians to play Test cricket for Australia, alongside Jason Gillespie, Ash Gardner and Scott Boland.

Thomas was later chosen to tour England and New Zealand but turned down selection to focus on her nursing career, working as a patrol nurse in Aboriginal communities.

In 2019, Thomas was awarded the Order of Australia for her services to cricket and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

During each WBBL season, the Adelaide Strikers contest for the Faith Thomas Trophy, presented to the winning team during First Nations Round.

“Faith Thomas made a wonderful and groundbreaking contribution to cricket and the community, and this is a very sad day for all those fortunate to have known her or who were touched by her many accomplishments,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement.

“As the first Aboriginal woman to represent Australia in Test cricket, Faith was an inspiration to those who have followed and she leaves an indelible mark on the game.

“Faith’s work in the community in many roles including as a nurse and midwife was also immense, and the care and compassion she displayed for the many people she helped was truly remarkable.

“On behalf of everyone across Australian Cricket, I offer my heartfelt condolences to Faith’s family, friends, teammates and all those who have benefitted from her vast contribution to Australian life.”

SACA President William Rayner said in a statement: “Faith Thomas’ story is as inspiring as it is incredible. A leader across medicine, sport, reconciliation and so much more, Aunty Faith created footprints that others have had the opportunity to follow in the decades since.

“A brilliantly unique and successful cricketer, Aunty Faith’s journey was never simply about personal achievement – instead she always sought ways to improve the lives of others.

“Aunty Faith will be greatly missed, but such is the impact she has had on this country, she will forever be remembered and honoured for the way she lived her life. On behalf of the South Australian Cricket Association, I offer sincerest condolences to all those lucky enough to know and love Aunty Faith.”

Permission has been granted to use Faith Thomas’ name and image.

Faith Thomas, the first Indigenous woman to play Test cricket for Australia. Photo by Darrian Traynor – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images
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