TYNE LOGAN AND ESTHER KIM
Aboriginal teens from the remote Western Desert have been given the chance to play the curtain-raiser to the West Coast Eagles v North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL match at Subiaco tomorrow.
The Western Desert Shield match, which is held every two years in Perth, will this year coincide with National Reconciliation Week.
The league is run by community council Kujungkarrini in partnership with Newcrest Mining, the West Coast Eagles and the Department of Sport and Recreation and has been going for the past six years.
Coach Daniel Toby said playing during National Reconciliation Week made the trip very significant.
“It would be an honour for this mob to play this round,” he said.
“This is our first time playing an Indigenous round here.”
Mr Toby said the game gave the players a chance to showcase their skills.
“We gonna show what we got in the Western Desert,” Mr Toby said.
“We got talent.”
He said the game provided an opportunity for some of the players to see Perth for the first time and go shopping.
“They get really happy to come down here,” he said.
“We’re here ‘til Monday, but wanna stay a bit longer.”
Elder, Milton Chapman, from Punmu community, said the shield was a good chance to perform in a big stadium.
“When we come play in the city it’s representing our community in the desert,” Mr Chapman said.
“We feel that we are showing other people that this is happening for us.”
“Yesterday, the players and their coaches went to Subiaco Oval to meet some of the Eagles players including Indigenous player Josh Hill.
Department of Sport and Recreation Aboriginal Sports Development officer, and former Fremantle Docker, Antoni Grover said he was impressed at the football knowledge and skills of the players.
“It’s amazing how far, you know, sport spreads and yeah for them to come down and see their heroes, it’s really a great experience for them,” Grover said.
Mr Toby said although he was happy to have met the Eagles yesterday, he actually goes for the Bombers, sporting a tattoo on his right shoulder.
He said his passion for the Bombers started at school age.
“When I was in school, in the community, we had this teacher, she was a girl from Melbourne,” he reminisced.
The Western Shield community teams will be split into two sides representing east and west of their region.
They will go head-to-head before the Eagles game commences at 5:40pm.