The Rirratjingu Football Program Youth Girls contingent are set for Finals football with Darwin Buffettes well placed to launch campaigns at Under 15 and Under 18 level. Gawiya Mununggurr and Shanita Garrawurra will play against a improved Southern Districts Football Club at TIO Stadium at 9:30 at Under 18 level whilst Kaya Mununggurr will suit up against Palmerston Football Club at 12pm again at TIO Stadium.
All three girls have shown development with the exposure to the well regarded Darwin Buffettes system. Rirratjingu Football Program Senior Coach Hayden Rickard expressed his delight when asked for his view on the improvement in the female cohort. He said "Really thrilled for the girls. They deserve this finals opportunity and its certainly a reward for the girls proving that alongside our male players, remote athletes can train at their home base and still perform at NTFL level. He added "It has been a blessing for the girls to receive some quality coaching from the Darwin Buffaloes staff and Araluen (Maymuru) has made great strides learning her coaching craft particularly through this NTFL season".
With Kaya Mununggurr debuting as the first female participant in October, the program has demonstrated its successful approach to training the girls alongside the male participants. This approach in the 2017 Gove AFLW Season saw timely development from the Womens Team and the side is currently planning for 2018 commitments.
Gapirri Burarrwanga will fly the flag for the program where he slots into the halfback flank as Darwin Buffaloes take on Nightcliff Football Club in the Premier League Qualifying Final at 7pm. Burarrwanga has been in ominous form the past 3 weeks and has continued to develop under the tutelage of highly regarded Defensive Coach Cameron Stokes.
Lee Mununggurr who suffered an injury to his calf is returning to full fitness but may rue the timing of the injury as the Double Blues look to shake up the competition under first year coach Matt Campbell. After taking over from Mark Motlop who lead a revival to the club after a decade of hurt, the former North Melbourne Kangaroo has added some football IQ to the cultural rebuild implemented by Motlop.
Nightcliff FC will start as warm favourites despite a close loss to Darwin Buffaloes in the final round last week and welcome back a number of key threats. Yet this Buffaloes outfit has a balance of uncompromising defenders, speed in key areas and tall options through Todd Miles and Darren Shillabeer. The elusive Adam Sambono can hurt sides from all angles but this game will be decided at the contest.
Djarrak FC Premiership player Luke Bath will turn out for his St Marys Football Club as they enter an Elimination Final against the unpredictable Tiwi Bombers FC at 4:30pm. Bath has been used in the forward line for the green machine and can be a match winner in his own right on any given day.
In further news, Rickard attended Wadeye Community at the invitation of Sgt Erica Sims, NT Police. Rickard shared the story of the Rirratjingu Football Program and the clubs 'Better People Make Better Players' approach certainly resonated will local stakeholders. Sims has a long association of working with Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation to achieve social outcomes and invited some key organisations to hear how the program delivers education and football.