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Nhamirri Buk'mak. It is with a sense of pride and regret that I sign off the season on the back of a tough Semi-Final knockout loss to a very handy Saints Football Club following our 9.8.62 - 10.8.68 loss to end our Gove AFL Finals campaign after one match.

It has been a season of learning for our side, and our rebuilding after the nucleus of last years squad departed meant that we had some extremely harsh football lessons to absorb and learn from. But learn we did. As a group we have forged a new identity for what it takes to be a 'Djarrak person' and this has been driven from our contribution to society and our common goal of striving to be better people.

Accountability is a word often associated with sporting results and it was no different with our group this season. Results didn't go our way early in the season but our group never wavered and our attendance at training following hard Saturday outcomes best exemplifies the dedication to the team. Our group slowly learned that accountability from the individual directly affects the team, and defence and commitment around the contest were the real growth areas that allowed us to emerge as the fourth placed finals participating team.

We have had a number of players put their hands up in terms of outstanding on-field performances. These included x-factor displays from Michael 'Longy' Maymuru, Shaun Mununggurr and Brendan Marika respectively. These guys produced instances and moments throughout the year that weren't coached and sometimes its hard not to just sit back and admire what's going on.

Some of our rookies have stood tall this season. Justin Burarrwanga and Billy Wanambi gained composure and confidence as the campaign progressed. They both added toughness to their resumes as best demonstrated by tagging work when assigned to that role. Newcomer Nash Boessi was excellent in his first season of AFL. Hailing from Ghana, and with a professional basketball background, Boessi became a team favourite and his dedication to learning new skills and a new game was a highlight for me personally.

The club welcomed former Hawthorn player and Darwin Buffaloes leader Cameron Stokes. It is no secret that our defensive pressure increased dramatically with the inclusion of Stokes and he can be proud of the impact he had on our program at the back end of the season.

Carlos Gurruwiwi, Ernest Dhamarrandji and Aaron Dhamarrandji really developed into key defenders throughout the season and it was exciting and much needed to add this facet to our team behaviours. Recent South Darwin Rugby Union 2016 premiership player Rhys Mulholland transferred his skills to our defensive zone and he was a handy inclusion to add some starch to our backline.

Our relationship with Datjala Corrections Camp has continued to produce talent for the club and Ricky Rose, Brando Ashley, Abel Paredoultja and Simon Ellis were critical key position players throughout the year.

Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation have continued to support our side as corporate partners and our group have had opportunities and privileges stemming from our close relationship. Yirrkala has transformed itself into the home of AFL in the region and the Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation have been instrumental in providing free BBQ's to supporters as well as music events post match that are alcohol free and family safe environments.

I have been asked to define if our season was a success. Looking at the football results from an outside view then one would say no. We haven't defended the 2015 premiership. But the team that represented Djarrak FC this year has never been compared to last years team by me in a football sense. I compare this team in a holistic sense. We have addressed anti-social behaviours including domestic and family violence and we are better people for these discussions and learnings how to deal with situations that lead to poor decision making. We have addressed choices around alcohol and players are making better choices in this area. We haven't contributed any statistics to the extreme rates for indigenous incarceration this season and we have worked hard to have our team make good choices away from the field. We also haven't added to the extreme statistics of young indigenous men attempting self-harm. I'll be able to define the success of this group in twenty years. If our team culture has helped shape successful behaviours and lives then we will have done our job as coaches, mentors and players.

I would like to thank my team Manager Danny Beadman for his dedication and support throughout the year. He continually goes above and beyond for the club. I also thank Rhian Oliver and Stuart MacLean for their valued input throughout 2016 that even included some surprise inclusions in the match-day squad.

Finally, I would like to thank my fiancé Marina. Coaching sports is a time consuming beast and sometimes you bring the ups and downs from your team home with you. Your support is highly appreciated.

Hayden Rickard

Djarrak Football Club

#WeAreDjarrak #DjarrakAlways

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