Footy resparks community spirit in Borroloola

Borroloola reignited with footy

AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) partnered with McArthur River Mine Community Benefits Trust (MRM CBT) for a five-day trip to reignite the town with a population of approximately 870 with the power of footy.

The trip aimed to empower and upskill the community residents with the necessary expertise to uphold their own competition and allow the community to connect over a shared love of footy.

Borroloola has not featured in a footy league recently, however, featured in the BAFL in 2021 as the Borroloola Thunders Football Club. After a year of discussion, the Thunders were to begin their first season in 2021, having to travel up to 29678 kilometres over the entirety of the competition. The Thunders would feature in 14 matches with a 2-12 record finishing last on the ladder.

The most recent representation of Borroloola in footy came in 2022 when a men's side participated in the umpire’s carnival in Katherine. 

The side made the 658-kilometre trip to participate in the tournament that targeted to highlight the significance of umpires. 

Unfortunately, they did fall short of winning the cup, making it to the men's final against Katherine Eastside losing by one point with a final score line of Katherine Eastside 3.2 (20) - Borroloola 3.1 (19).

The MRM CBT approached the remote team at AFLNT with the motivation to start a four-team competition in the area including the first women's competition engaging the youth population with programs dedicated to the development of their footy skills.  

As the Northern Territories school holidays took full effect, the team on the ground took the opportunity to welcome all youths to participate in clinics that allowed those who joined in to sharpen their footy craft through fun and interactive games. Kids of all ages participated in the clinics with an approximate total of 150 taking the opportunity to expand their abilities. The selected youth audience engaged in two-hour sessions from Wednesday to Friday.

To assist in the goal of creating their competition, all those interested, attended sessions on competition management including the buildout of a code of conduct to create the laws of what will hopefully become a self-sustainable competition.

Two female and male coaches, as well as two female umpires and one male umpire, were directly mentored by AFLNT staff.

Training sessions for the teams were run as part of the senior growth in footy. Anyone over the age of 15 was free to get involved with the training that took place from 4:30 pm to 6 pm. With the help of AFLNT, all sessions were coached and umpired by local community members.

A footy carnival was run over the weekend, putting all courses into action to produce a functional competition for Men and Women. A total of 70 players were involved in the carnival split into 40 women and 30 men. The carnival was well supported and attended by the local community.

The visit provided the community with a well-needed lift following the displacement of residents from the impacts of Cyclone Megan in March 2024.  

The AFLNT team will be revisiting Borroloola in the July school holidays, thanks to the Roper Gulf Regional Council.

In collaboration with Borroloola School, students will engage with Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre (MLLLC) with camps scheduled for May and October 2024.

AFLNT's Indigenous engagement programs are imbursed through a joint agreement between the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).