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Nhämirri Bukmak,

This week is Round 7 of the Gove AFL Mens Season where we take on Nhulunbuy Saints and then with two weeks off football with a long weekend followed by a bye will mark the halfway stage of our Djarrak Football Club 2017 campaign. To date our coaching staff and playing roster has worked extremely hard and the reward has been to sit two matches clear from our nearest rivals on the competition ladder. The old adage that premierships aren't won in May certainly rings true yet it is important that our squad keep to our formula that is "we work harder than everybody else".

Whilst we have had a number of last seasons fringe players filter to opposition clubs, the core of our rebuilding program from the 2016 campaign has stayed the course and now the club is benefiting from the rigorous approach we have had. The pathway program to the NTFL has added confidence and football IQ to a number of our members and the rewards are being exhibited at Gove AFL level.

We have a healthy mix of experience and youth around the club. It is important that we stay grounded after such a healthy start to the season and not lose sight of what works for the team versus what might seem more attractive to the individual. It is vital that the team is placed above the player always. In 1975, Muhammad Ali quoted to the Harvard Graduates a short poem often considered one of the shortest in the english language. "Me. We" Ali said. One of sports finest individual champions had created an ethos of belonging. I prefer me.WE when referring to team. The WE is always bigger than the me.

We have also had our new hosting agreement with footballers from Groote Eylandt Football League playing in Djarrak FC colours. We are fortunate that the club and Rirratjingu Football Program have a strong reputation so as for the organisations involved on Groote Eylandt to support this venture. The simple facts are, if we were just a football club - then the pathway would not exist. The strength of this pathway is based around how our social endeavours are more important to the program than results on Saturday. Better People Make Better Players.

As our players have displayed a high work ethic, so too have our coaching and off field staff. This week we farewell Cameron Stokes who will relocate back to Darwin for an employment opportunity. Stokes' new role will see him visiting the Nhulunbuy region each month and he will still be available for the club through the Rirratjingu Football Program exchange with Darwin Buffaloes. The club expect he will play the majority of the remaining rounds of football. In the short time Cameron has been based on the peninsula and a part of the club, he has built a significant legacy and leaves our program in a better place than we he came here.

Steven Raymond has been a refreshing new voice around the club this year and his midfield zone has improved out of sight. His rotation system has complemented the high work rate the side has displayed thus far. Bernie Price will continue his Forward Zone coaching role whilst returning from injury and has also taken on a key role with the new Gove AFL Junior Boys Competition as well as his Senior Advisor duties.

The new juniors competition has had a great start and a bumper crowd supported the boys first hit-out last Wednesday night. Players have been evenly spread throughout the teams with a number of boys not strictly playing in their family teams. The competition is being used as a development tool and organisers wish to avoid blowout scores and to keep the contests even. School attendance is going to be an important selection tool for players. If your son is school aged, please get them to class to learn and also have associated football opportunities. The Cotton On Foundation and Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation have made significant financial and in-kind contributions to get the competition started.

A really pleasing aspect of the season thus far is the attendance of the Women's team at mens training. The ladies have generally been new to the game but the skill levels have really improved quickly and excitement will generate before the season launch in July. The Women's Team will have a specific club kit designed to identify the womens program.

As Senior Coach, I have been fortunate to be hosted by the Geelong Football Club in Victoria last week. I have a number of findings from the visit that I will present to our coaching staff and we will look to introduce some new things that will be designed to bring improvements to the way we go about our business. It was also great to see that a lot of the things we already do mirror the elite game, this in turn gives our staff the confidence we are moving in the right direction. The Geelong Cats are planning significant activities in the region to support the Next Gen Academy and have engaged consultants to further improve their hosting of indigenous and culturally diverse players at the club.

Our forecasting modelling has the side again qualifying for finals this year. We have a further 8 opportunities to solidify our playing style and patterns that have served us well thus far. We also have introductions of new content that will keep our opposition guessing in many respects. So as we go deep into the season, we are well placed to face emerging challenges. There will always be opportunities at Djarrak FC for people that are prepared to work hard.

Hayden Rickard

Senior Coach Djarrak Football Club

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