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Gapuwiyak Rugby Tour offers great opportunities for indigenous children

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By Warnervale Rugby Club

What a fantastic adventure for a group of 12 to 16 year old indigenous children from the far north of Australia when they travel to the Central Coast to play a series of 7-a-side matches against some young players from the Warnervale Wildcats rugby club on Sunday 3rd March, starting at 11am.

The games will be played at “Hannon’s Oval” on Minnesota Road, Hamlyn Terrace, just down from the Warnervale Public School. The road is closed for roadworks, but you can park your car for a quick 2 minute walk to the ground.

The boys are from the Northern Territory at Gapuwiyak, which is a mainland community located on the shore of Lake Evella near the upper reaches of the Buckingham River.  If you think of the Yothu Yindi band and Gurramal singer - this is where they are from.

As part of a program, which is introducing ‘alternative sports and healthy life styles’ into remote communities in East Arnhem Land, this tour will be first time that most of these kids have actually been out of their community, let alone on a plane.

The group selected have met a number of ‘entry points’ to be selected, including 88% school attendance, and have had their high school performance assessed by teachers since October last year. They have been attending training sessions during the school holidays and on weekends and have been endorsed by the community to represent them and the school.

The boys have raised over $3000 from within the community by doing community work, running BBQ’s at school etc, to assist in the costs of the trip.

To get to the Central Coast the boys face a long and tiring trip starting from Gove Airport, landing in Cairns and changing planes to fly to Sydney. The boys will use the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern as their “home base” for their tour.

The group have not played any ‘competitive rugby’ so the rules and intent of the games is very flexible and a lot of fun. Bare feet is the norm for the boys,  but they are currently getting used to wearing footie boots at training and enclosed shoes as part of the travel requirements. English is their second (or even third) language - Yolngu Matha  is their first language - so they are certainly going to have an informative trip.

During their week long tour the group will have plenty of things to do and see. They will visit the Australasian College of Hairdressing, have some coaching from Randwick Rugby coaching staff, a visit to Scots College, attend the Waratahs vs Rebels rugby game at Allianz Stadium, have a look at the Opera House and have lunch on Sydney Harbour, go to a Sydney Swans AFL Match, and have a game of 7’s against the Woy Woy Rugby Club.

As an appreciation to the Warnervale Club they will do a ‘bungul’ on the day, which is a Yolngu dance, song, language and music presentation and will have the Wildcats young players participate. They are also bringing some ‘hunting spears‘, and showing the Warnervale players how to use them.

Everyone is welcome to attend to see the absolute joy that young kids show when playing rugby. There will be BBQs, lollies and handouts for the players, and water and fruit poppers available for sale on the day.

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