Greetings to our Brown and Gold Army faithful on the eve of the 2018 Gove AFL Season. Djarrak Football Club Men's and Women's teams have slowly been ramping up preparations for the season over the past month. Our progress is slightly behind where we were placed this time last year due a number of new faces joining the club and some of last years group remaining at homelands. We will back ourselves to get some quality content into both playing groups across the season and expect to be competitive throughout with an aim to qualify Top 2 and earn a life come finals series.
The Rirratjingu Football Program has had a highly successful NTFL campaign with a number of our players excelling in Darwin Buffaloes colours across the 2017/18 competition. The program unveiled our first female participant when Kaya Mununggurr debuted for Under 15 Youth Girls in Round 2. Mununggurr worked hard throughout the season and won a place in the NT Thunder Junior Academy which means she will be eligible for national campaigns that come up later in the year. Gawiya Mununggurr and Shanita Garrawurra won a Under 18 Youth Girls Premiership and really developed nicely in the Double Blues system.
BJ Mununggurr has also won a position in the NT Thunder Junior Academy and enjoyed a quality season in the Under 16 Boys and played finals with the side eliminated in a thriller in the dying stages at semi-final time. Our men's program continued to develop and both Lee Mununggurr and Gapirri Burarrwanga held down positions in Premier League throughout the year. Dale Dhamarrandji debuted at League level before having his season cut short through injury. Justin Talal continued his football education in Division 1 but importantly took on a mentor role for our youth players that has now transferred to employment at Yirrkala School assisting the Clontarf Program. The program had positive debuts from Tyler Lovell and Gerrard Nelson in the New Year and the club expect both men will be key players in Djarrak FC this season. Of special note has been the training attendance of Yama Banu, Joseph Smith and Tim Blake despite not travelling and all look in good nick for their hard work thus far.
Araluen Maymuru, Danny Beadman and Steven Raymond have once again contributed volunteer hours that has seen the program delivering quality community based football experiences and shows that remote players can live at home and still impact the Northern Territory's biggest competition. The program also congratulates Darwin Buffaloes Football Club on a successful season and we are pleased to announce that Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation has extended a sponsorship agreement for a further 3 NTFL Seasons.
After a huge six months with Darwin duties we have firmly fixed our eye on the domestic season and we look forward to the challenge that is Gove AFL for our Men and Women. As always, we will have players depart and new players arrive. This in itself brings a level of excitement but experience over the past two seasons tells us that if we can quickly produce alignment and own our behaviours that complement lofty standards, if we get it right off the field, then the football will take care of itself. Our 'Better People Make Better Players' approach and purpose driven 'Building Our Legacy' pillar has seen a marked improvement in the make-up of a 'Djarrak person'. These are our core focus areas.
Both of our teams face Gopu Football Club tonight at Yirrkala Oval from 5:30pm in what shapes as Grand Final rematches from last season. Both supporter groups may find extra excitement in this fact, however, for our football department it is purely the opportunity to start a new season and identify what our new personnel changes will add to our game shapes and structures.
Araluen Maymuru will coach the Womens side this season. I know personally that taking on a team for the first time is a exciting and daunting time for a novice coach. Our club is confident that the Rirratjingu Football Program has added coaching experience to Araluen and we are comfortable that our women's squad is in great hands. As always, there will be plenty of assistance from our men's squad and Timothy Blake will once again help out as required after a stellar role in 2017 as an assistant. I am personally looking forward to seeing Gawiya, Kaya and Shanita display their experience gained in the NTFL on the home fields.
Tonight our mens side has 14 changes from our last competitive game in 2017. It is an exciting time around the club with a number of Junior boys recently taking part in the AFL National Diversity Championships held in Blacktown, NSW this week. A special congratulations to Wamut Mununggurr for his selection in the Rio Tinto Flying Boomerangs squad. We will look for debut senior games for these boys in the coming season. A number of new faces will represent the club for the first time tonight. It is exciting for the playing group and coaches alike.
This year I will again have Steven Raymond assisting and Bernie Price will have a role controlling the forward zone as a coach and a player. Raymond will oversee the Midfield portfolio and he has some experienced heads in Luke Bath and Lovell at his disposal. I will look to fill the shoes of Cameron Stokes with the Backline and we will make the most of the knowledge Cameron devoted to this area next year. We will look to call on Cameron at times throughout the season.
We look forward to seeing the Brown and Gold Army assemble at Yirrkala from 5:30pm tonight.