Seven Territorians have travelled to Perth this week to attend the 2019 AFL Rio Tinto Footy Means Business program from 1- 6 April.
The program brings together a squad of 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, aged 18 to 26 years, from across the country to participate in the six-day camp and is currently in it’s ninth year.
Participants take part in a number of skill development sessions, including cultural awareness activities, football training and education and employment seminars with Rio Tinto.
Gunbalanya in the West Arnhem Shire has three representatives in Angelo Lungguy, Jayden Wurrikgidj, Alexander Nabegeyo while Justin Talal and Benson Wunungmurra both hail from Gove in East Arnhem Land and play for Djarrak in the Gove Football League.
Two Centralians in Marcus McDonald and Kelly Dijana have also travelled to WA for the camp. McDonald is from Papunya and plays for MacDonnell Districts in the CAFL Country League while Dijana is from Areyonga, a community 200 km west of Alice Springs and is described as a great community man with sensational football skills.
The players will take part in an exhibition match at Secrest Park Sporting Field on Friday 5 April where they will have the opportunity to showcase their skills on the football field.
Former Western Bulldogs and NT Thunder player Brett Goodes and local West Australian footballer Shayne Taylor have been announced as head coaches of each representative squad Goodes played 17 games for NT Thunder in 2010 before going on to play 22 games with the Bulldogs. Steven Raymond from Djarrak Football Club in Gove is travelling as an Assistant Coach.
A second camp will be held in Melbourne from 21-26 May in the lead up to the 2019 Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round.
AFL General Manager Game Development, Andrew Dillon, said the Rio Tinto Footy Means Business program was another great opportunity for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to develop their skills both on and off the field.
“The AFL Rio Tinto Footy Means Business Program has played an integral role in developing both football talent and life-long skills in hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who have been involved in the program throughout the last eight years,” he said.
“The skills participants learn and the bonds they create within the program will hold them in good stead to become positive role models within their local football clubs and wider community.
AFLNT Manager of Talent and Pathways Wally Gallio said the camp was a reward for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who were achieving success in not just football, but education, business and community life.
“The program focuses on what it means to be a leader in all aspects of life.
“Participants will be working with their peers setting goals for employment, discussing strategies for positive decision making, strengthening identity and returning to their communities