Tiwi Islanders Visit Victory

For teenagers living on an isolated tropical island north of Darwin, a trip to a capital city like Melbourne is more than a holiday – it is a life experience far removed from day-to-day life.

For teenagers living on an isolated tropical island north of Darwin, a trip to a capital city like Melbourne is more than a holiday - it is a life experience far removed from day-to-day life.

Travelling all the way from the small indigenous community of Wurrumiyanga, students from Xavier School on Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory (part of the Tiwi Islands) enjoyed their first experience watching a live football match during their recent school camp in Melbourne.

The Tiwi Islands are most famous for supplying AFL players like Michael Long, the Rioili family and more recently Austin Wonaeamirri. While AFL is very much the sport played in the Northern Territory, Melbourne Victory thought it would be a great opportunity to broaden the horizon of the students and show there are other professional sports to consider.

The 40 students, both boys and girls aged between 12 and 17 years, were enthralled watching the game from the VIP Lounge at Olympic Park. In the midst of their excitement, many questions were asked in regards to the happenings on the football pitch, while numerous students found the slippery conditions very entertaining. Despite an inspirational second-half performance from Carlos Hernandez, which had the students on the edge of their seats, it could not prevent Melbourne Victory succumbing to a 3-2 defeat in the pre-season friendly. Throughout the night, students were quizzed about football and the correct answers were rewarded with a football, while all students also took home a MVFC show bag.

Xavier School Principal, Kathryn van Egmond, said the chance to be guests of a professional A-League football club was the perfect activity for the children. “When we take our students away we want them to experience as many different things as possible”, she said.

“The Tiwi Islands are very, very focussed on Australian football so the chance to expose students to another sport at an elite level was brilliant and the enthusiasm of Melbourne Victory was fantastic.

“The people of the Tiwi Islands love sport and are incredibly gifted athletes but the reality is they live closer to Jakarta than they do Melbourne.

“The reach and global appeal of football is something which can really broaden the horizons of Indigenous students.”

Melbourne Victory would like to thank Peter Krupka for his help in organising the evening, as well as the students and staff of Xavier School for visiting. We hope to see the world game continue to rise in the Northern Territory.