In a recent article about Maningrida Footy in the Northern Territory, the Michael Long NT Thunder Learning and Leadership Centre was mentioned as a link to allow young players from remote communities to follow the talent pathways on offer for Australian Rules football. It has proven difficult for young players, indigenous and non indigenous, to make the transition to the demands of life playing football away from home. This centre will greatly assist young players in that transition to hopefully go on to play at the highest level.
“Essendon legend and AFL great Michael Long met Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean and Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon in Canberra to discuss progress on the Michael Long NT Thunder Learning and Leadership Centre in Darwin.
At Parliament House, Mr Long, a dual premiership player and Norm Smith medallist, outlined the construction timetable and unveiled the logo for the centre.
Mr Long said he was delighted to update Mr Crean and Mr Snowdon on the progress of the project.
“I am delighted with the final design of the logo as I believe it encapsulates both the essence of the project and the spirit of the Territory,” Mr Long said.
“The release of the logo and branding is an important step as we progress to commencing construction, as planned, in April.
The AFL has named the final Indigenous All-Stars squad that will take on Richmond Football Club tomorrow, Friday, February 8 in Alice Springs, captained by Essendon star Nathan Lovett-Murray.
Sydney Swans premiership player Michael O’Loughlin will coach the Indigenous All-Stars, assisted by Roger Hayden, Adam Goodes, Shaun Burgyone and Lance Franklin (Franklin, previously named captain withdrew from playing this week due to injury.)
The AFL is pleased to announce that Hawthorn star Lance Franklin will captain the Indigenous All Stars when they take on the Richmond Football Club on Friday, February 8 at 7pm in Alice Springs.
Supported by the Coles AFL Indigenous program, the match will be played at Traeger Park and will showcase the Indigenous talent in the AFL.
Franklin said he is proud to captain the All Stars for the first time and looks forward to the match against Richmond.
"The Indigenous All Stars match is a really important event as it recognises the Indigenous Australians' contribution to the national competition. It's a chance for some of the best Indigenous talent from across the country to play together."
It was also reported today in the Herald Sun that Franklin would like to have the Indigenous team play in a three team International Rules competition against the Irish and Australian teams "Personally, I would love to see the All Stars take on the Australia and Ireland teams. That would be great recognition for the indigenous players."
The indigenous community of Maningrida almost defines the term “remote”. It sits on the estuary of the Liverpool River in Arnhem Land, right where it flows into the Arafura Sea. The nearest town of size is Jabiru, “a coupla hundred clicks [kilometres] away” according to one local. Darwin, the nearest capital city, is 400 kilometres away to the west. Like so many other remote communities throughout the “Top End” of Australia, that remoteness can be both its charm and its curse.
When Bernie Price, Regional Development Manager for AFLNT in Maningrida, arrived there after 6 years as a plumber in Yarrawonga, Victoria, he admits to a “slight career change” which has introduced him to an entirely different culture and lifestyle. But it also gave him the chance to interact with indigenous culture and combine that with his love of Australian Rules football.
His role commenced in July 2012 when funding from FaHCSIA (Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) and the ABA (Aboriginal Benefit Account) provided the opportunity for similar positions to be created in the indigenous communities of Gapuwiyak, Lajamanu, Ngukurr and Hermannsburg, as well as Maningrida. This was an expansion of the existing AFLNT program which commenced in Wadeye in 2007 and extended to Galiwinku and Groote Eyelandt in 2009.
Opportunities for junior talent throughout the remote areas of the Northern Territory to follow Australian Rules football pathways have been enhanced, as outlined in this media release from AFLNT.
“AFL Northern Territory’s Remote Projects Department have joined forces with Northern Territory Football League clubs to create and improve talent opportunities available for remote players across the NT.
“The NTFL Partnership Program was initiated with great cooperation from our NTFL Clubs to further develop and fast track the progression of our remote players into our talent pathways,” said AFLNT Indigenous Programs Manager Kevin Bruce.
Each of AFLNT’s nine remote projects where full-time staff are located have been linked with an NTFL team to further foster and develop opportunities. “So far, a total of 38 players from all over the Territory have participated in the program, where they not only play for an NTFL club, but spend 10 days supervised in Darwin learning life skills and participating in all training and recovery sessions that the club has,” advised Bruce.
Head Coach Kevin Sheedy will visit Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory tomorrow to launch a new partnership between the Giantsand the Galiwin'ku community. Sheedy, a passionate advocate of Indigenous Australia, will meet members of the community and attend a local football match.
Galiwin'ku, about 520 kilometres from Darwin, is the largest community on Elcho Island and the second largest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory with a population of 2290 people. It was the inspiration for the song 'My Island Home', originally performed by the Warumpi Band, and later also performed by Christine Anu. It is also home to the blind Aboriginal folk singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
For a bit of fun take a look at the Youtube video put together by two Australian girls kicking the footy around the world. A similar idea has been mooted before as a promo video for the International Cup with players from each country kicking the footy around the world, but is yet to happen.
Do you remember your first Aussie Rules footy match? I remember mine like it was last week. I was running out onto the ground in my Clayton footy jumper. I was so proud. The club wore Collingwood colours (and being an Essendon supporter, I still have involuntary tremors…even today). It was 1972, I felt ten feet tall and….
Hold on a moment! That statement is not correct. Not even close. Why? Because my selection to wear the purple and gold of the Clayton South Primary School footy team pre-dated club football in black and white by a good twelve months. In fact, I still remember my dad suggesting that if I did well enough in the school team, he would let me play in the local league the following year.
I’m quite sure that many readers of this article might also look back into their pasts and find a connection to school footy at some point. The more I think of it, my school days were responsible for some of my greatest footy moments. My first recorded “speccy” attempt was one. I missed the ball and slid quite gracelessly off the back of my opponent step ladder, winding myself. But it was possibly the highest I ever flew. The captain of my high school team in the late seventies was a certain Chris Mew, who would later become an integral part of one of the greatest Hawthorn squads in history through the 80’s and 90’s. In the same team, however, was one kid who went on to play reserves for Essendon and South Melbourne, and another whose older brother was a part of the inaugural Sydney Swans team in 1982. Through school footy I managed to meet some pretty fine players. Actually, in some ways, school footy in my Victorian upbringing was a bit like a “best of” team, with a cross section of some of the finest local talent attending the same school.
There is a fairly widely held knowledge that Australian Rules football can be traced back to as early as the 1860’s in the south east corner of Queensland, most particularly Brisbane. It has taken far longer, however, for the game to break into many northern markets.
Even though there were sporadic outbreaks in places like the Atherton Tablelands and Thursday Island, they were generally linked to the stationing of servicemen in those areas and rarely survived beyond the war years, unless absorbed into other competitions. It was not until the 1950’s that competitions began in Townsville (1955), Cairns (1956) and Mount Isa (1957).
But in 1969 there was much correspondence sent between Mackay and Victoria. In a situation which must almost echo the storyline of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, where Tim Robbins’s character writes to the authorities so often that they give in and send him money for library books, the Australian National Football Council (precursor to the AFL Commission) gave in and sent fifty dollars to Mackay to help pay for stationary to allow the paperwork to go ahead for the creation of another centre of Australian Rules football in North Queensland. Fifty bucks to get started!