A team of Indigenous footballers took to the field in Couta jumpers last month as part of Katherine’s famous Barunga Festival - a showcase of cultural music, arts and sport.
The Queenscliff Football Netball Club (QFNC) donated the surplus football jumpers some six months ago.
Point Lonsdale school teacher Tom Meaney, who organised the exchange, said the jumpers had since been worn by players from across the Big Rivers Football League.
“I sent a couple of sets up to the Katherine Camels Football club and they made their way to the regional AFL Development Officer and from there they’ve been worn by the Warlpiri Swans in a footy carnival and they’ve also been worn by the Elcho Island Bulldogs - who became the Elcho Island Baracouta Bulldogs for the weekend at the Burunga Footy festival."
The jumpers were further shared between clubs more recently during the Freedom Day Festival football carnival.
Meaney, who worked and played football in the Northern Territory for several seasons, said he knew the cast-offs would be well received in Australia’s football mad heartland.
“I know that teams up there often don’t have a set of jumpers and it helps out when you’ve got matching strips for the community teams that come into the carnival,” he said.
The Big Rivers League is based in Katherine, but players travel often hours to get to matches.
“The Warlpiri Swans would drive eight hours to play football in Katherine and they wore the Couta strip at the start of the year and then the Elcho Island mob would have either got the barge or flown over and then driven six or seven hours to play at Barunga. They love their footy,” Meaney said.
“As a community club, we understand the importance of providing local people the opportunity to play sport and promote the benefits of physical and mental health,” said QFNC President Rowan Martin.
“When asked if we could support an indigenous community team we jumped at it as we know how beneficial sport would be to communities less fortunate that ourselves. This endeavour upholds our ‘Couta Code’ - of always supporting the community, even if they are in Central Australia.”
then the Elcho Island mob would have either got the barge or flown over and then driven six or seven hours to play at Barunga. They love their footy,” Meaney said.