The Home Runners!
Easter weekend, 2021 marked the first of what we hope to be many annual Easter Gala Day tournaments hosted by John Moriarty Foundation (JMF). A combined team of participants selected from Community Street Soccer Program (CSSP), Home Runners (Gap Youth Centre (GYC)) and Tangentyere Council football program were invited to travel to Tennant Creek to play against a team of Aboriginal youth currently attending coaching clinics through JMF.
In the lead-up to the weekend Freya (Tang) and Lloyd (HomeRunners) worked tirelessly to ensure that we were well prepared to undertake the 10-hour return trip with 2 nights spent camping out in between legs. Both Tang and GYC provided transport to ensure our trip would go ahead!
On the Saturday morning GYC staff provided assistance by collecting kids and dropping them at a central location in Alice Springs in order for us to hit the road promptly! From Alice Springs our first stop was Ti Tree where we eventually located the JMF program running out of the 6 Mile community. At 6 Mile our kids were provided with the opportunity to participate in several small-sided games and training-drills with local youth on a basketball court with lovely red dirt providing the backdrop. JMF coach Martin provided lunch for our participants, after which we continued our journey north.
We arrived in Tennant Creek only an hour behind schedule at 6:30pm with Simon from JMF facilitating access to the school hall where we'd be sleeping. Fortunately, dinner was served and ready to go upon arrival! The kids enjoyed accessing the sporting equipment in the hall and several hours of high activity followed until eventually the final participants fell asleep during the early hours of the following morning.
The following morning, tired staff and participants alike had brekky and made their way to the oval where we were greeted by more JMF staff as well as local council staff. The first of two matches against a well-coached Tennant Creek team ended in a 3-2 loss. 15/16 of our participants involved themselves in the game and put on a huge effort consisting of some well coordinated passing from Christopher, some hearty defense from Jonika, and a series of heroic saves from goal-keeper Sonny.
The second match ended in a 3-0 loss with participants running out of steam in the hot conditions and unable to rely on miracle-man Sonny as he took a well-earned break from goalkeeper. Participants left the grounds in good spirits and eagerly anticipating our afternoon activities.
From footballing-fun to water-jumping excitement our team travelled over to the dam for a well-deserved cool-down. The kids had an amazing time performing tricks as they launched themselves off the bridge and into the dam below.
Following our afternoon swim we had dinner at our accommodation followed by a movie for all. It soon became evident that we were unlikely to experience a repeat of the previous night's prolonged activity as kids dropped off one-by-one from about 8pm onwards. The sight of a mostly-still hall at the duration of the film at around 10pm was very welcome by staff.
The following morning was our time to journey back home to Alice Springs. The journey was not without its obstacles however participants and staff alike were pleased to arrive home to their families at a respectable hour. On the whole we are pleased with the outcomes of the trip, the learnings we have undertaken and are looking forward to our next football adventure.