An Opportunity in the East

The 2012 NT State Titles marks a bright beginning for Touch Football in the East Arnhem region. At the event, East Arnhem entered a team into the U18 Mixed division with some of the players having only recently taken up the sport in the previous few months. More astoundingly is the fact that some players were literally pulling on the boots for the first time at the event, with boots being provided to players who usually get about in bare feet.


The East Arnhem team was put together following a round robin tournament that saw players from communities including Millingimbi, Galiwinku and Gapuwiyak coming to participate.


Millingimbi Sport and Recreational Mentor, Brian Brown, who assisted with coaching the team, felt that an opportunity such as this had been a long time coming, but was extremely pleased with how Touch Football was giving many of the young people, particularly the girls, an opportunity to participate and represent their community in sport. “This is something that we have been waiting for, for a long time. Bringing young people to an event such as this allows our community to gel together and work together”.


The team had a number of positive results both on and off the field during the tournament, and were extremely thrilled with managing to secure two wins and a draw in their first outing as a team, finishing the tournament in 5th position overall. “There are still some barriers that we need to breakdown such as language and understanding the sport, but it is something that has been extremely positive” Brown said.


The team will look to take their experiences back to their communities and to grow Touch Football by introducing more participants to the game, as well educating community members in the ability to coordinate and develop Touch Football programs in the region. Cherie Forbes, who is the East Arnhem Shire Council Regional Manager for Youth Sport and Recreation, is focused on ensuring that Touch Football continues to develop and grow in the East Arnhem region. “We are about capacity building, so supporting local people to manage and run the local programs. At a regional level we have nine communities within our shire; we have been providing training to our staff so that we can assist the communities to self sufficiently run touch competitions.”


Ms Forbes also spoke about how they would utilise Touch Football as a way of engaging with the local youth. “This is something that is new and interesting, so it is really engaging for the participants. With more lead in time, we will use it as an incentive to keep kids in school. Our young people do feel disengaged, so this provides us with an avenue to give the kids something to look forward to. This tournament has opened our eyes to what we can achieve, in terms of bringing Open division teams to future tournaments and creating competitions in our communities.”


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