Nhämirri Bukmak,

Season 2017 for the Gove AFL has seen a resurgent Djarrak Football Club mens program move into finals calculations after a rebuilding campaign in 2016. The addition of the Gove AFL Womens competition aligning with current clubs has seen not only growth in the womens game, but has added a real family fabric to our brown and gold army. I'm extremely proud that the mens group have embraced our women's squad and the fact that the ladies have been exposed to the same content our men receive has seen real improvement and enjoyment when displaying their wares on the playing field. Credit to Araluen Maymuru, Corey Atkinson and Tim Blake for the time they have invested and success they have shared thus far and I wish them well for their finals campaign.

It is pleasing to report that after 15 rounds of Gove AFL Mens Competition action that our club has secured a minor premiership. It is a very satisfying achievement and the hard work and dedication by the coaching staff in terms of planning and content delivery, the efforts of the playing group in terms of sacrifice of time and spending themselves in our team cause has been a pleasure to be a part of. But the reality, and rightly so, is that no one remembers the minor premiers. Our eyes remain on the prize that matters most.

We have given ourselves a chance to add a premiership to our clubs history and the next possible 3 weeks are a culmination of strategic planning that took place in February and March this year. Sun Tzu quoted "every battle is won before it is ever fought" in his renowned Art of War that dates from the 5th century BC, and in terms of our design of how we want to wage our battles ahead - we have been clear to the extreme and dedicated to our path.

Our finals campaign comes on the back of two losses that have identified room for improvement in a number of areas. We have spent the past month addressing these issues. Success is a lousy teacher in many respects and we are fortunate to have been tested thoroughly as other teams jostled for position on the ladder. We have also suffered a number of injuries that have ruled out key players. Our qualification policy that was designed to give us a significant list from which to choose our finals players has been a blessing, even if it curbed our momentum in some respects.

This years program has also been significant for the unique addition of players from the Groote Eylandt Football League. AFLNT Remote Development Manager Joel Ikupu has been able to leverage a rebirth of structured mens competition across Alyangula, Angurugu and Umbakumba through the Groote Eylandt Cats and the Groote Eylandt Hawks respectively. This rebirth has had a significant boost through the higher level pathway to the Rirratjingu Football Program and the Djarrak Football Club. I had the pleasure to present to Groote Eylandt stakeholders on the set up of the Rirratjingu Football Program and our pursuit to make our people the best version of themselves. This is the key reason we have been engaged and accepted the host responsibilities. Better People Make Better Players on Groote Eylandt also.

Elcho Island has long served as a nursery for talent filtering into the Gove AFL. We are one of a number of clubs that host young men from this area and we are aware that we can create an environment here that players can take ideas home and improve the Elcho Island product in time through their own experience.

Our partner club Darwin Buffaloes have appointed Matthew Campbell as Senior Coach of the Men's Premier League team and he has been an important player for us this season whilst he has taken the opportunity to identify talent for our NTFL responsibilites for the 2017/18 NTFL campaign. The RFP has a number of players from last NTFL season that have taken their personal games to new levels and our modelling and delivery is improving with each outing. RFP Version 3 promises to bring further incremental gains and we will pilot the addition of youth girls into the NTFL.

Whilst our supporters have been at their one eyed best to date this year, I urge you all keep our young men and women on task as we negotiate the finals series. We have set ourselves some lofty goals to achieve on and off the field and we are not there yet by any means. We need to stay humble and keep working hard and that is the attitude the club demands from our players and supporters alike.

Nothing is a given in life or football. We are masters of our own fate whilst we work hard and stay on task. My belief in the group I have around me from the board and staff at the Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation, coaches and players is absolute. We intend to take our opportunities going forward and look to embrace the competitive surprises and challenges head on. Better People Make Better Players.

#WeAreDjarrak #DjarrakAlways #BetterPeopleMakeBetterPlayers #BuildingOurLegacy

Hayden Rickard

Senior Coach | Djarrak Football Club