RIRRATJINGU FOOTBALL PROGRAM
Rirratjingu Football Program
The Rirratjingu Football Program was created when Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation identified the need for an ongoing football program to support young men, teach life skills, engage with future leaders and avoid anti-social behaviours specifically at Yirrkala Community, NT. Decision makers within Rirratjingu Clan devised using football as a vehicle to implement social behaviour change in the next generation particularly the future leaders of the community.
A relationship was formed with Darwin Buffaloes Football Club, Darwin, NT with a view to long term sponsorship and gaining a host club to share football and cultural knowledge. Darwin Buffaloes provided a number of exchange players to Djarrak Football Club during the 2015 Gove AFL Season.
The program that started in the 2015/16 NTFL has now entered its fourth NTFL season.
The pilot Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation supported future participants and encouraged them to seek employment or training with 11 persons going on to work readiness training through Rio Tinto Gove’s Ralpa Program. A further 8 gained employment positions through Miwatj Employment Program.
The Rirratjingu Football Program 2015/16 began in earnest post Gove AFL Season with a group of 10 strong travelling contingent for Round 1 NTFL with players filling both Premier League and Division 1 spots.
The Healthy Lifestyle Program endorsed selecting on character rather than football ability. This was demonstrated by talented players without a hard work ethic finding the program too difficult to complete. There are no rewards without effort. This is what stood the program apart. It is not to be seen as a hand out.
Throughout the NTFL Season up to 15 participants played for Darwin Buffaloes. Mabo Mununggurritj and Jeremy Watson could be considered regular Premier League players with both playing 15 and 11 games respectively.
The Darwin Buffaloes completed a successful season with a fourth placed finish of regular season and a first finals appearance for 10 years. The club scored wins in the regular season over both eventual NTFL Grand Finalists
The program has continued to expand in its second season and two of our pilot season Under 18 players have progressed to senior ranks. 2016 Gove AFL Djarrak Football Club award winners Michael 'Longy' Maymuru - Player of the Year and and joint Rookie of the Year winners Justin Burarrwanga and Billy Wanambi were part of the second year program.
Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation recruited Hayden Rickard to Coordinate its Social Programs with a significant portion of the role to design and deliver the Rirratjingu Football Program.
Cameron Stokes, Steven Raymond, Dale Dhamarrandji and Danny Beadman held mentoring roles throughout 2016/17 and they can celebrate a successful second NTFL campaign. Amongst 18 participants there were 343 training attendances, 3 playing appearances at Under 14 level, 2 playing appearances at Under 18 level, 42 playing appearances at Division 1 and 28 appearances at Premier League level.
Darwin Buffaloes Premier League finished 5th on the NTFL Ladder and were eliminated in the first Round of Finals.
The 2017/18 season has introduced a number of talented youth girls with Kaya Mununggurr excelling at Under 15 level and Gawiya Mununggurr and Shanita Garrawurra showing promise at Under 18 level.