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Nhämirri Bukmak,

I take this opportunity to welcome our Djarrak Families and Supporters to the beginning of the Gove AFL Senior Mens Season for 2017. It is an honour to hold the Senior Coaching role at Djarrak Football Club for 2017. A number of exciting changes are happening at league and club level this year, and our season planning has the club well placed to welcome Junior Boys, Girls and Womens players to don Brown and Gold in competition for the first time.

The growth of Australian Football on the Gove Peninsula has been evident and new exciting pathways for indigenous players from grass roots through to elite level have developed that will build on the current 9% of players at AFL Clubs identifying as Indigenous. The Geelong Cats Football Club have been allocated East Arnhem as their catchment area for the Next Gen Academy that has been rolled out across the region. Djarrak Football Club Juniors will have the opportunity to learn football fundamentals through the academy before enjoying the tribalism that takes place when competing in club colours. Look out for announcements for start dates for Juniors expected mid-May for Boys and June for Girls.

With Womens Football riding on the success of the recent AFLW League, that includes a NT flavour to the Premiership winning Adelaide Crows, the Gove AFL has welcomed women into four existing clubs including our own. We aim to offer our female participants the same opportunities given our Senior Mens group with a pathway to the Darwin Buffettes, NTFL Womens Premiers 2016/17 a realistic goal for those ladies prepared to work hard on and off the field.

The mens program has been working hard for the past 5 weeks and our playing group are relishing the opportunity to test themselves this weekend where we take on Nhulunbuy Baywara Football Club at 12pm at Yirrkala Oval.

I would like to acknowledge the work of our coaching staff with Cameron Stokes, Steven Raymond and Bernie Price having a significant input into the content that our playing group has been delivered this preseason and will continue to learn as the year progresses. The planning and attention to detail has been first class and points to a major improvement on our 2016 content which was heavily focused on changing the culture of the club. With our club standards now set in stone, our coaching staff will be well placed to improve our players decision making and football IQ.

We have a number of new faces around the club this year and we expect positive outcomes from the addition of Price and Dale Dhamarrandji to the playing list. I am certainly looking forward to seeing Lee Mununggurr, Justin Talal, Lenny Maymuru and Tyrone Dhagapan continue their development after taking big steps forward after handy campaigns for Darwin Buffaloes in the NTFL Competition this past season.

Our 4 year Strategic Plan has outlined our vision to be "The Destination Club", the club of choice for the Gove AFL. We have a number of exciting opportunities opening up this year and the Rirratjingu Football Program has gone from strength to strength in terms of enabling players within the region to play football at a higher level. We will this year host a number of players from Groote Eylandt through the support of Anindilyakwa Aboriginal Services, SOUTH32, GEBIE and the AFLNT. These players will need to demonstrate they are learning or earning to be eligible for this initiative and will be available from Round 4. Our partner club Darwin Buffaloes will also supply a number of players throughout the year as required and we are close to confirming a host base for a Representative NEAFL Club that will be announced in the coming weeks.

I would like to acknowledge Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation for the continued support afforded both the Rirratjingu Football Program and Djarrak Football Club. I am certainly aware of the privileged position our coaching staff and playing group are exposed to through this ongoing and generous assistance.

This season the club has continued our successful 'Better People make Better Players' approach. This concept is best demonstrated through our engagement with the No More Campaign. In November last year our club designed a Domestic Violence Action Plan. As a collective we say No More to domestic and family violence. We have committed to ongoing education for our coaches and players surrounding this ongoing issue. Our Junior Playing group will this year be exposed to education sessions delivered by Anglicare NT.

We have also added 'Building our Legacy' as our second mantra. With the addition of our Junior and Womens teams in 2017 we are working to leave the club in a better state for future generations of Djarrak members to come.

I look forward to this season and being privy to the growth of our coaching and playing groups that only develops when truly tested in competition. I hope to see plenty of Brown and Gold around the ground come midday on Saturday.

Hayden Rickard

Senior Coach Djarrak Football Club

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