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Djarrak Football Club and the Rirratjingu Football Program announce that current Director of Football and Former Senior Coach Hayden Rickard is stepping down from his duties with the club and program this Friday. Rickard is relocating south to Sydney to take up the Head Coach role at East Coast Eagles Football Club and will guide the club and the Men's Premier Division side in 2020 and 2021.

Rickard was first involved with Djarrak FC in the 2015 Gove AFL season and he joined the club mid-season at the request of Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation. The club would win the Gove AFL Premiership and Rickard was able to fact find in order to make recommendations to the Corporation who indicated investment in its own Football based program. Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation was engaged to design and deliver the first Rirratjingu Football Program and Rickard as program coordinator was responsible for providing industry standard AFL training and preparation for the participants to compete in the NTFL with the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club.

Taking up the Djarrak FC Senior Coach role in 2016, Rickard set about improving the club culture and Better People Make Better Players and Building our Legacy became key pillars that have driven the club and program since. The side had a high turnover, with a number of premiership players leaving the club, and the club became a destination for a new crop of young 17-20 year aged players.

When probed on the 2016 season Rickard said "We had a really great group of young coachable players. By putting the onus on our playing group to attend school and find employment, the group became invested in being the best version of ourselves. We took a really young side to finals and had momentum. We lost our elimination by a goal but I'm sure if we had been able to navigate that game, our game method would have troubled the other sides".

2017 was a breakout year for Djarrak FC and the Gove AFL as this was the first season of Womens teams forming under existing club banners. The club decided that the women's program would receive the same content as the mens program. Trainings were designed around ensuring that multiple coaches would work across differing stations and that all players received the same level of education. Both sides would win Premierships using this method.

"2017 was special in terms of the impact that our women made to our club culture. We decided early that the best way to help the women improve was to train the same content as our men. Danny Beadman was great decision maker in this regard to bring the concept through. I think our culture that year was something special and we sent some of our club greats to retirement in the best way" Rickard said.

The 2018 and 19 seasons saw Rickard step back from the Senior Coach role to allow the development of Steven Raymond. Whilst retaining the responsibility for the football department and program administration through the Manager | Culture & Community at Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation (RAC), Rickard was very much still hands on in regards to specialist coaching across line groups.

"My time at the club has been an honour and a privilege. To see the development of some of our participants in terms of stability that education and employment brings to the table, that's what I'm most proud of when I look back. We have some bloody good people around the place. We've had players fill 14 NT positions, 7 AFL Indigenous Programs spots and coaching appointments to 7 representative placements.

This journey has been a block of work that a lot of people have invested their time in. The late Danny Beadman was my right-hand man from the beginning and I miss him greatly. Cameron Stokes was immense for us in terms of the example he set on and off the field. Matt and Paul Campbell have been the perfect contributors for our mens group. I've been supported by a wonderful coaching staff and Scully (Raymond), Araluen (Maymuru), Stokesy (Stokes), BP (Bernie Price), Sione 'Big T' Hale, Nicholas O'Riley and Tim Blake have all been a source of support and inspiration along the way.

I must thank my partner Marina Wangurra. I've worked an average 42 weekends each season over the past 4 years and the balancing act for the time sacrifice requires an understanding and supportive person. A purpose driven role that I've had requires that genuine support.

I also want to thank the management, staff and board at RAC over my time. Stuart (MacLean) was instrumental with my recruitment and his support and trust allowed the program the kickstart it needed. Saheel (Shah) and latterly John (Hughes) have taken a keen interest in the outputs and outcomes of our model. Jodie Maymuru has worked in the background and is a great believer of our methods. And finally to Bakamumu Marika and his board, I give thanks for the vision they continue to see. We have a generation of participants who are finishing school, into jobs and receiving wellbeing education that I'm sure will pay dividends long into the future. My hope is that one of our current participants will one day fill the seat that was my role. That would be the ultimate legacy for me".

Djarrak Football Club will announce new staff in due course. Nicholas O'Riley will oversee the Rirratjingu Football Program on an interim basis.

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