Home' Navy News : August 5th 2010 Contents Fleet Network Pty Ltd D/L No. 20462
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August 5, 2010
By SBLT Stuart Dennis
THE Royal Australian Navy's Australian
Football Association (RANAFA) has
ended a successful tour of the Top End
with the men's team comprehensively
defeating the West Arnhem Buffaloes
at TIO Stadium in Darwin on July 17.
The Navy Men's and Women's
National Australian Football sides trav-
elled to the Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) com-
munity in West Arnhem Land and the
Nguiu community on Bathurst Island in
the Northern Territory in the week lead-
ing up to the big game played in conjunc-
tion with the AFL Bulldogs versus Power
The players and support staff toured
the Top End using Aussie Rules football
to connect with the indigenous commu-
nities throughout the NT as part of the
Navy's Community Engagement Program
(NCEP), coordinated across northern
Australia by HMAS Coonawarra (CMDR
President of the RANAFA, CDRE
Clint Thomas, said the NCEP aimed to
establish a long-term relationship and a
mutual trust between a number of indig-
enous communities and the Navy.
"As in most indigenous communi-
ties, Aussie Rules is the major sport that
brings the community together," CDRE
"The matches Navy fought out with
the indigenous communities on the tour
have been a further step to solidify the
relationships already developed.
"I am looking forward to further
opportunities for RANAFA to be involved
with the NCEP in building on these rela-
tionships into the future."
Along with the men's team playing
the Buffalos, the women's team also took
the opportunity to play the Tiwi Islands
women's team during their arduous trip to
After a five-hour transit on board an
Army LCM8 (and a five-hour transit back
after the match), the Navy girls were una-
ble to take the points with the Tiwi ladies
defeating Navy 54 points to 44.
Captain of the Navy women's team,
LS Natasha Wilson, said it was the best
game of footy she had ever played.
"To come to the Tiwi Islands and play
footy with the women's team has been the
pinnacle in our footy life for me and the
Navy women's team," she said.
And from the perspective of the
organisations that support these commu-
nities, the feeling was absolutely mutual.
Brett Goodes, Indigenous
Employment Programs Manager for AFL
Northern Territory, said taking a football
team out to the communities let them
know the Navy and the wider Australian
community were interested in what they
"Building the relationships that both
the AFL and Navy have with these com-
munities allows the AFL to recruit players
and the Navy to recruit members, provid-
ing indigenous people with education and
employment opportunities," Mr Goodes
This tour was also an opportunity to
see how much of a difference the NCEP
is already making out in the communities.
Northern Australia Regional
Coordinator for NCEP, CPO Tony
Thomas, has developed a personal rapport
with James, a teenage boy from Oenpelli
who has his sights set on a career in the
"Whenever I catch up with James, I
ask him if he has been going to school
because, as I explain to him, no school;
RANAFA tours Top End
no Navy. And, the same goes for sport --
no school; no footy!"
CPO Thomas has been instrumental in
establishing the relationship and mutual
trust with indigenous communities, and
the RANAFA Top End tour could not
have been possible without his long hours
and hard work.
UNIFYING: (Above) The coach of the Navy women's Aussie
Rules team, LSDENT Heather Flannery, presents a gift to the
'Best on Ground', Jacinta Puruntatameri, of the Nguiu women's
HIGH HOPES: (Below) The men's team competes with the West
Arnhem Buffalos at TIO Stadium.
Photos: ABIS James Whittle
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