A Car, a Kangaroo and a Footy Match
Tuesday, January 15 2019 @ 09:00 am ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
In this extraordinary story from Lucy Murray at ABC North West Queensland, the team from Lake Nash in the Northern Territory, their trials to simply get to a footy match are explored. If you like, it ould be called extreme car-pooling to get to a match each week. It is an amazing snapshot into what it takes to play footy in one of the most remote parts of Australia.
The Lake Nash Young Guns footy team struggles for money to travel the 600km to their games, and if they do not get a kangaroo on the way to the game, they most likely play on empty stomachs.
Alpurrurulam, or Lake Nash, as it is commonly known, is an Indigenous community on the Queensland–Northern Territory border.
In the centre of town is a red dirt Australian Rules Football Oval, where the Lake Nash Young Guns can be seen training every evening.
As they run, often barefoot, or in socks, they leave a trail of red dust behind them.
"When they grew up as children, they always had a ball in their hand and it has just never stopped," club president Renee Larkins said.
"It is not just a game to these fellas, that's their life, it's love, they are very committed, and it is a different love for the sports that they have."
This love of football has also helped keep the players out of trouble.
"When they are there on the field and when they are at training, they are not drinking, breaking-in or running amok, they are doing something that they love," Ms Larkins said.
"The sniffing has stopped heaps, there's not a lot of sniffing anymore, there's no breaking in anymore, the fellas are doing really, really well."
Every weekend the team travels a 600-kilometre round trip on a rough dirt road to Mount Isa in North West Queensland for the game.
Since their bus broke down two years ago the team has had to take their own cars to town.
"It is very hard on the cars, sometimes we have to take little cars in, like Commodores and stuff, and you have to drive so slow because the roads are that messed up," Ms Larkins said.
"Sometimes there is no room in the car and most of us get left behind," player Gregory Wilde said.
To get to Mount Isa each car will use a full tank of fuel, and more, for the way home.
"If we are taking three or four cars, that's about $100 or something for each car to fill up," Ms Larkins said.
"Then you're filling up more cars to come back again, so that is another $400, so about $800 a week, depending on how many cars we take in.
"That's half of their wage each, they struggle a lot, they hardly have any money as it is."
Lake Nash has only one store and no other businesses, so sponsorship is very hard to come by.
This means the money for fuel, registration and jerseys all comes out of the players pockets, which does not leave them with much spending money.
"We are also struggling for money to feed them, so hopefully, fingers-crossed they get a kangaroo going in on Friday, then that's their dinner," Ms Larkins said.
"Then on Saturdays, if they are not lucky enough, they don't get any money, they will just go to the game hungry."
Renee Larkins said the players often come off the field sick, feeling faint and shaking.
"It's not very nice to stand on the sidelines and see these boys love something so much and they struggle every week to get into town," she said.
"They go without things, they go without money, they go without food, just for the love of football.
English is a second language in the community — the players mostly speak Alyawarre to each other.
This gives them an on-field advantage as the other teams do not know what they are saying, but it also means they are very shy.
In a heartfelt letter to the ABC they have explained the challenges they face each week.
Despite the challenges, the Young Guns have made it into the grand final three years in a row, but are yet to win it.
So the players are looking for sponsors to help get them over the line.
"We need a bus, we need a bit of money coming our way, they need money for food and fuel, the fellas, they are still playing with their same boots from two years ago, because they can't buy new boots," Ms Larkins said.
"I wanted to start up a bank account for the Young Guns club, we'll definitely keep the receipts, and everything will be done professionally."
To read the original article and view the video also, go to the original ABC story at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-19/young-guns-struggle-for-food-and-fuel/
If you know of anyone who might be able to assist the club through sponsorship, contact the club, the ABC or ourselves.
Picture Credit: Lucy Murray, ABC North West Queensland