APY Lands Trip – 22 and 23 September 2008 (via Coober Pedy)
On 22nd September – Crows players Andrew McLeod, Graham Johncock along with four Junior Development Staff and Tim Stewart from the SANFL flew to Coober Pedy at 6.30 am on a charter Plane with Dick Lang’s Bush Pilots on their way to the APY Lands as part of The “Adelaide Football Club APY Lands Fostership Program – (details below)
The footy group arrived in Coober Pedy to refuel around 10am amidst wind gusts of over 100km/h, which concerned pilot Dick Lang. They landed safely and waited two hours for it to calm down so they could take off to their first community engagement but unfortunately the persistent winds stranded the Crows in Coober Pedy for the night.
In what turned out to be a surprise visit to Coober Pedy Area School Andrew McLeod and Graham Johncock gave out some school awards during the CPAS assembly.
The flying Crows had dinner with a few locals and then headed off back to their accommodation for an early night. With day one being wiped out, the group had to schedule six schools and communities in their last day so made a dawn start leaving for the airport around 5.45am.
Upon arrival at the APY Lands, Group One drove to each community consisting of Graham Johncock, Joel Kay, Louis Hadden and Alec Henry (SANFL staff member who lives in Indulkana) arriving at Fregon around 8am. Here they held a clinic and a presentation on Healthy Eating. The football stars handed out caps, t-shirts, scarves, stickers and posters to all the kids. The students treated their visitors to a gymnastics session which included plenty of energetic forward and backward flips.
The next stop for ‘group one’ was Mimili where the kids were bouncing out of their skins to see their footy heroes including the principal who was a passionate Crows supporter. The players did a presentation on anti-bullying which was entertaining for the kids as it included Claude the Crow getting shown up in his dancing competition by an enthusiastic break dancer. Mimili’s time with the team finished off with a kick-and-catch session with Graham Johncock and an autograph/photo session.
The last stop for ‘group one’ was Indulkana where tour guide Alec Henry lived. The kids again were excited to see Graham Johncock and people around the community couldn’t believe it was actually him. “To stay was easy but to leave was hard’, said Graham Johncock.
Group Two consisted of Andrew McLeod, Matthew Duldig, Luke Radley and Tim Stewart (SANFL Staff member) who flew with Dick Lang to each community.
The Pipalyatjara school students were in disbelief when Andrew McLeod walked in. The school Principal mentioned that it was the lowest absenteeism they’d had all year with 100% attendance.
Murputja Community presented Andrew with a traditional emu dance and hand carved wooden lizards which were greatly appreciated. The staff and kids all loved the presentation and clinic along with all the Crows giveaways.
Amata was the last community where the locals where participating in the annual football carnival against all the APY Lands communities. The school was buzzing with excitement when Andrew McLeod arrived.
Group Two then flew to Marla to pick up Group One for the long journey back to Adelaide via Coober Pedy. Both groups extended a big thank you to Alec Henry and Tim Stewart from the SANFL for guiding them through the APY Lands and to Dick Lang for his great flying skills through trying conditions.
Ann Bowering, school Principal at Kenmore Park speaking to the project organisers said, “Thanks for going on with the arrangements despite wind and other set backs. Our kids were shy but enjoyed the session. Thanks again for making it possible.”
Christine Bell, Principal at Mimili Anangu School said, “The Crows were very genuine with the kids, which was good to see. Some of the kids have written letters and have made a small book. Please thank the boys again for a great morning”.
Rose Temple, Youth Leadership Project Coordinator at Umoona Community Council in Coober Pedy said, “The kids will never forget the day the Adelaide Crows “blew” into Coober Pedy. Next time we have interschool sports or functions with the students from APY Lands, they will have plenty to talk about. Thank you all for the lovely surprise”.
To keep up with progress on the APY Lands Fostership program, bookmark this link:
The “Adelaide Football Club APY Lands Fostership Program is a proposed three-year engagement strategy with assistance from indigenous players Graham Johncock and Andrew McLeod who will help to build the capacity of the APY community by encouraging Indigenous people to reach their full potential. In keeping with our desire to be “the team for All South Australians” the club will partner with the APY lands communities in conjunction with the local schools and agencies to engage young people in school and sporting activities.
The “Adelaide Football Club APY Lands Fostership Program” provides a relevant and critical community presence where it is required most. This presence will enable the club to build a strong bond with the local Indigenous people.
The club is determined to “make a difference” through this program and use the profile of the club to provide some vital training, football education and life skills to young indigenous people in the APY Lands through this fostership program.
Photos: Rose Temple (Coober Pedy Regional Times) and Adelaide Football Club