The RAAF has once again walked away from the NAIDOC Touch Football Championship with the winners trophy.
Both the mens and mixed RAAF teams fielded in Thursday’s round robin touch football tournament won their final games which will see ‘Williamtown RAAF’ etched on the trophy for a third consecutive year.
Port Stephens-Hunter Police District Chief Inspector Tony Townsend, an organiser of the annual NAIDOC Week event, said it was a “great day”.
“Everyone was in good spirits and really competitive,” he said. “The tournament was played in really good spirit and everyone enjoyed themselves”
In their inaugural year playing in the championships, the Port’s teachers found themselves in the men’s final against RAAF.
RAAF faced Port Stephens Council in the mixed final. It was the council’s first year of making the final.
For the police, a highlight of the day was winning a game. It was the first game the side has won in the four years the tournament has been running.
“It was very special,” Chief Inspector Townsend said. “We can only improve from here.”
The teachers, from schools around Port Stephens, were the “surprise package” of the day, fielding competitive teams against the police, council, RAAF and Aboriginal community.
“It was awesome to have another group in the tournament but it was also awesome for the teachers to have that extra interaction with students who played in the tournament,” Chief Inspector Townsend said.
“They said they had a great time and would be back next year.”
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington presented the trophy and runner’s up plate at the end of the championship.
The fourth annual NAIDOC Touch Football Championship kicked off in Medowie on Thursday morning.
About 100 people in mixed and men’s teams from police, RAAF, the Worimi Aboriginal community, Port Stephens Council and, a new addition this year, teachers of Port schools took part in the day-long round robin touch tournament.
Before the action got underway, Worimi elder Leigh Ridgeway performed the welcome to country while his brother and fellow Worimi elder Justin Ridgeway performed a smoking ceremony.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington and Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer officially opened championship event.
“I thank you for coming here today to celebrate NAIDOC Week and for there to be such representation from across out community here today is really impressive,” Ms Washington said.
“I understand there’s defence here today, police, council and department of education for the first time joining in.
“It’s really impressive to have those links in the community playing sport together and understanding each other. It’s going to help our cultural communication, our cultural understanding and also make our community stronger.”
Cr Palmer not only opened the championship on Thursday morning, but joined the council’s ranks on the field.
“It's wonderful to be part of the touch football tournament here today,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see over 100 competitors here in Medowie. We’ve had such a great week celebrating NAIDOC.”
It was the Port Stephens Aboriginal community that won the first championship in 2015 with the RAAF runners up. In the past two years, however, it was the RAAF that claimed the championship trophy and the Port’s Aboriginal community that has been runners up.
More to come.