Djarrak Football Club welcomed former Geelong Football Club premiership player and Territorian Matthew Stokes to have a hit out in the Intra-Club fixture that has been implemented to give the mens program some match type load during bye rounds this season. Geelong FC were in the region last week as part of their Next Generation Academy where they are one of 5 AFL clubs allocated catchments of the Northern Territory in order to grow Australian Football and unearth talent from remote areas.
The Cats contingent consisted of Stokes - Diversity Talent Lead AFL, Simone Bellears - Academy Pathways Manager, Paul Hood - Womens and Academy Head Coach, Nelson Browne - Djarrak Premiership Player/Cats High Performance Intern and Liam Woodland - Talent ID Assistant. Matthew Campbell - Darwin Buffaloes Senior Coach and AFLNT Next Gen Coordinator also attended the visit and now has a view of the strength of East Arnhem football through the remote communities of Ramingining, Galiwin'ku and Gapuwiyak.
Fine conditions presented for the Thursday night fixture and the sides were mixed with the Womens team joining the fray. A number of key match-ups occurred and Campbell and Coach Steven Raymond had a running and verbal battle throughout the game. Djarrak Premiership Player Browne returned to his old stomping ground and immediately set to work by engaging in a contested possession with Senior Coach Hayden Rickard.
Hood was classy throughout and launched a number of rebounding attacks from well read turnovers. Tim Blake, Doctor and renowned cinematographer was a menace at ruck time and he will be looking to qualify for finals over the next two games. Bernie Price showed some nice touches to suggest the key forward will be back in a Djarrak guernsey this coming weekend. Danny Beadman and Djayminy Marika were composed as they umpired the game and looked to quell the battle between Campbell and Raymond.
Stuart MacLean made an appearance and immediately found his way to Stokes. This is the second premiership player he has tagged in two years after being given Andrew McLeod to run with in last years Gove AFL Competition. After running on the two former greats MacLean made the following bold statement. He said " After two hit outs, I'm yet to find my equal". Unfortunately for Djarrak selectors, MacLean will be unavailable for a finals campaign.
Nikki O'Hara, Heather Fevaleaki and Mikayla Mununggurr we active in the womens zone and no quarter was given. Dyhan De Santis has improved out of sight over the past month and took a number of key marks showing good hands. The womens program is progressing nicely and Hood was able give some valuable pointers to both the mens and womens group during Tuesday's training session.
Rickard was pleased when asked about the game. He said "Look, it was fantastic to have Geelong here this week. They have an open invite to our club any time they are in town. Pretty special for our players to have two classy ex-AFL stars in Stokes and Campbell having a go out there. The ladies got to put their best foot forward in front of Hoody and he was impressed with their physicality and willingness to learn. We have quite a few young girls that we will invest time into this NTFL Season and give them an opportunity going forward".