Some of the country’s best touch football players will descend on Dubbo next weekend for the second annual National Indigenous Touch Football Knockout.
The carnival has literally doubled in size since the inaugural event, with 40 teams – 29 senior men’s, women’s and mixed, and 11 junior sides – set to pack into Apex Oval.
It’s an achievement Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service CEO Darren Ah See is very proud of.
“Last year we only opened it to adults and we had 20 teams, so we’ve got an extra 20 teams this year which is great,” Ah See said.
“I think it’s going to get better every year.”
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Local sides will be joined by teams from across the state, with a handful from Newcastle as well as Queensland set to make the journey.
The two-day carnival will kick off on Saturday, December 15 with matches designed to divide teams into separate grades.
To maintain an “even playing field”, the number of Australian, state and regional representatives on each team is limited.
Sunday’s matches will then determine the winners of each grade, with more $40,000 prize money on offer.
‘It’s an opportunity for different levels of skilled and experienced sides to compete, but also to maybe have some success at the knockout as well,” Ah See said.
“There is the opportunity for people that want to test themselves against the best, but it’s also an opportunity for a family side to come and just have a run and get together from a social aspect as well.”
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The junior competitions are a new addition to the knockout, with under 10, under 12 and under 14 girls and boys divisions.
With WACHS partnering with the Western NSW Local Health District, and Quit B Fit, the knockout also aims to help close the gap in health and education outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and non-Indigenous, Australians.
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The Commonwealth government’s most recent Closing the Gap report revealed the 2031 life expectancy target was not on track, however smoking rates among Indigenous Australians fell nine percentage points between 2002 and 2014/15.
“It’s about sport participation, but it’s a whole lot more,” Ah See said.
“There’s still a large gap … so it’s about supporting that but it’s also about providing another avenue of people getting that [health] information.
“Sport is very important in Aboriginal people’s lives … so sport is a good avenue to promote and raise awareness.
“I’d like to thank all the sponsors that have come on board this year, and encourage everyone to come along and have a look.”