It is with a sense of immense pride, tinged with sadness, that I report on the end of a tough season for our Women's and Men's squads for 2018. The Gove AFL Season was a testing year in terms of replacing the loss of high end talent from our 2017 squads through a development plan that gave our youth aged players the confidence that they were firstly valued by the club and secondly a huge part of our plans for the season, the plan to increase our football IQ throughout the club and also identify future talent for the upcoming Rirratjingu Football Program's Darwin commitments.
Our Women's Program developed a new Senior Coach from within our club with Araluen Maymuru really taking on the task of training and match day role with a dedication that will give confidence to her personal development going forward. The side was often short on numbers throughout, yet as a club we continue to unearth talent. Araluen had a support staff of Barb Taylor and Sione 'big Tony' Hale who were both instrumental in ensuring game day operations ran smoothly.
Gawiya Mununggurr has taken her game to a new level following her transition into the Darwin Buffaloes youth girls system last NTFL Season and Kaya Mununggurr and Shanita Garrawurra both represented the NT at schoolgirls and Under 18 level respectively. Shakera Nabegeyo exploded onto the Gove AFLW scene and I believe a season with Darwin Buffaloes will very much put her on the radar for a life as a professional footballer should she wish to dedicate herself to that pathway going forward. I very much enjoyed the development of the youth girls, particularly Sienna Stubbs - who mixed her football with releasing her first book 'Our Birds', an amazing accomplishment for a young lady on the rise.
Recruitment in the Women's space will very much be the key to improving our performance in 2019 following a exit in the first round of finals going down 3.3 21 - 7.3 45 to a much improved Saints FC. Well done to Araluen and side for the perseverance and resilience displayed during a tough season. I hope to play a larger role in assisting our Women's program next season.
Our Men's program will look back at 2018 as a real growth year for the side. We were very slow out of the blocks and often our early season results were not a reflection of the effort that the group was putting in towards getting better as people and players. I have had the great fortune to lean on my fellow coaches in Steven Raymond and Bernie Price throughout the year.
Both Steven and Bernie have a great rapport with the group and I believe that our clubs great strength is the human capital we have at our disposal. We have learned fellows amongst our groups of medical students that have called the club home this year, mental health professionals, staff from the Clontarf Academy amongst a host of contributors to our approach on and off the field.
My biggest source of pride this season is the blooding of our four 15 year olds. The care and dedication of our playing group to look out for the boys on and off the playing surface has definitely helped bring the development on in leaps and bounds. The way Whandirri Yunupingu has approached his game has resulted in him being identified ready for Darwin Buffaloes by our staff and I believe that he and Wamut Mununggurr are both capable of cracking Premier League during the 2018/19 NTFL Season. BJ Mununggurr has really found his way in Senior Football and he will be asked to continue his work with the aim of Division 1 as a regular outside/small forward role. Russell Munyarryun has a huge future ahead should he dedicate himself to adding some steel into his contested possessions.
The result of losing a large group our 2017 crop is that we have allocated leadership roles to further players across the club. Djayminy Marika and Dale Dhamarrandji had heavy support from Raven Marika, Tyler Lovell, Justin Talal and Lee Mununggurr
in driving the team this year. Luke Maymuru had a fine debut season in Djarrak FC colours and is our only player to play every game for the year for us.
Whilst our side fell 8.5 53 - 9.9 63 to Gopu FC on the weekend, I am extremely proud of the way our group battled away, applied pressure and put their bodies on the line. I also pay tribute to our supporters, who were gracious in defeat and really showed what our club is about following our close loss by showing great care for our playing group. Some of our 2018 side won't be back with us next season and I pay tribute to Tyler Lovell and Luke Bath for their contributions to making the club a environment where only your best effort is good enough. Both these players have added to our groups football nous and I wish them safe travels back to the Geelong area.
When I look back on this season, it is important to congratulate individuals whom have represented the NT Thunder Academy or Talent Squads, NT Schools, NT Thunder Diversity, NT Thunder Inclusion and AFL Indigenous Programs representatives from our coaching and playing talent pools. So far we have had 13 players and 3 coaching positions filled by the Brown and Gold Army as well as 4 players and a coach to the Geelong Cats Next Gen Academy. We expect to name further players in the Under 15 NT Thunder Under 15 Girls Diversity squad in coming month. These statistics alone are an endorsement and fair reflection on the talent base that our club is keenly developing. I'm sure our program stands out when compared to other remote teams across the Territory.
I also pay tribute to my right hand man in Danny Beadman. Danny continues to be a great servant of the club as our manager and he takes a massive load of our off-field responsibilities on his shoulders.
Personally I would like to extend my thanks to the Djarrak FC faithful. Holding the coaching board for the past 3 Gove AFL seasons has been one of the great coaching pleasures and experiences I have had to date. I am proud of the club and what we stand for as a group. I have had a great run in the Senior Coach's seat and acknowledge that now is a perfect time to relinquish the whistle moving forward. I will still have an important role to play, especially ensuring that our Technical Direction is aligned across both the club and Rirratjingu Football Program.
It is my pleasure to announce Steven Raymond has been elevated to Senior Coach of the Rirratjingu Football Program. Steven's care for the playing group and particularly his development work with the youth brigade has demonstrated that he is the ideal person to drive the direction of the program heading into our Darwin commitments. I look forward to assisting Scully (Steven) from behind the scenes and seeing the program further develop with a new voice at the helm.
Yours in Football,