Indigenous team joins NT Football League

An Indigenous Australian football team representing the Tiwi Islands, where Australian football was introduced by 99-year-old Missionaries of the Sacred Heart brother, John Pye, debuted in the Northern Territory last weekend.

According to the ABC 7.30 Report, while footballers everywhere else across the country have hung up their boots for the year, the Australian football season in the Tope End is just getting started.

Saturday's opening round of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) featured the debut of the Tiwi Bombers, the first appearance of a team representing the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin.

Since Australian Rules was introduced during World War II more than 60 years ago by Br Pye, the Tiwis have become synonymous with a brand of sparkling football that has produced some of the biggest names in the Australian Football League.

But they've never had their own major league team, until now.

The Bombers, playing their first match in the Northern Territory's Aussie Rules competition, won by 34 points against the league's strongest team, St Mary's, which also includes a number of players of Tiwi origin.

Players from both sides acknowledged Br Pye who first arrived in the Islands in 1941.

"I've been waiting for years for the Tiwis to get in but I'm also the patron of St Mary's for the last 20 years, so I've got divided loyalties," Darwin Bishop Ted Collins told the 7.30 Report.

The Tiwi bombers' slogan is "Tiwi for Life," a recognition of the high suicide rate among young men, which has blighted the islands in recent years. The entry of a Tiwi Islands team into the Darwin competition is being used to promote good health and arrest suicide.

Team administrator Brian Clancy told the 7.30 Report that "there's a couple of kids in particular have been at risk for quite a few years and these are kids who we've been worried about, but they've been training and they don't smoke now.

"They look terrific. They stand up straight. None of this head down, and the red eyes, the glassy eyes, just that look of depression. They've got life, energy back into them. It's amazing," he said.

Tony Frawley, Northern Territory Chief Executive of the AFL, said that the Bombers "play a beautiful style of football, exciting brand of football. I think probably 80 per cent of the support here today would have been for the Tiwi team. People appreciate their skills and the way they play and the fact that it's an all Aboriginal team's just historical in itself as well."

Tiwi team debuts in NTFL (7.30 Report, ABC TV, 16/10/06)
A team in big league kick-starts hope on troubled Tiwi islands (Sydney Morning Herald, 13/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Tiwi Islands Grand Final (Stateline, ABC, 24/3/06)
Thunder and lightning (The Age, 30/3/06)

MSC order to celebrate 100 years of service (CathNews, 9/12/05)
Nguiu schools to remain under Catholic control (CathNews, 10/8/05)

17 Oct 2006