Competition comes second to the community connections forged during the the annual Port Stephens NAIDOC Touch Football Championship.
While it is nice to take home the trophy, and claim bragging rights for the year, the round robin tournament between police, Defence, Port Stephens Council, the education department and the Indigenous community embodies the 2019 NAIDOC theme - working together for a shared future.
"Unless we adapt and change together, nothing changes," Worimi man Justin Ridgeway said.
"This tournament is what NAIDOC is all about. Coming together to celebrate together as a community."
Welcome to country and smoking ceremony before the 2018 tournament:
The championship, which has been staged annually during NAIDOC Week since 2015, will this year be held at Lakeside in Raymond Terrace on Thursday, July 11 from 8am.
About 100 people, fielded in men's and mixed teams, play in the championship.
A small number of hand-picked students play for the Indigenous teams, which Mr Ridgeway said helps them to better connect with teachers and police.
Port Stephens-Hunter Police District Acting Inspector Vince Nicholls said he was looking forward to the tournament.
"It's a good opportunity for police and the community to come together in friendly competition and build on relationships and friendships," he said.
Playing at Boyd Oval in Medowie last year, RAAF's men's and mixed teams won their final games to claim the trophy for a third consecutive year and the plate.
In their championship debut, the education department men's team was pipped at the post by the RAAF.
NAIDOC Week in Port Stephens will be celebrated between July 8 and 12.
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Strong line-up of NAIDOC events
NAIDOC Week in Port Stephens grows larger each year but the 2019 program features more events than ever before.
In addition to the marches, touch football championship and a family fun day that have become staples of the Port's NAIDOC Week, this year's program features a Worimi art exhibition, more events at Murrook Culture Centre and a free film festival that shines a light on and celebrates Indigenous stories.
Five films that pay tribute to the 2019 NAIDOC theme will be shown at Raymond Terrace and Tomaree libraries on July 11 and 12.
Worimi-Biripi Aboriginal contemporary artist Pauline Coxon will show works as part of the Worimi Wild Flowers exhibition in the Raymond Terrace Library art space between June 29 and August 1.
"This is a solo art exhibition showcasing our native flowers," Coxon, from Karuah, said. "The wildflowers remind us that we need to take care of the country. We need to have space for the wild to grow."
NAIDOC Week 2019 calendar of events
Monday, July 8
- Raymond Terrace march and flag raising
March from Cenotaph (corner Port Stephens Street and Jacaranda Avenue) to Port Stephens Council's administration building. The forecourt will be yarn bombed in Aboriginal colours, all knitted by council staff and community volunteers. Flag raising, speeches and free breakfast to follow.
- NAIDOC Week kids disco
- Murook Culture Centre, Williamtown
Get your dancing shoes on and dress up in your favourite disco clothes to dance the night away. This NAIDOC event is designed for the kids aged 5 to 13 years to enjoy the evening listening and dancing to the DJ's music. Supervision is required by a parent or guardian.
Tuesday, July 9
- Worimi LALC hosting movie night - Undermined: Tales from The Kimberley
- Murrook Culture Centre, Williamtown
- From 6pm
Join the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council at Murook for an evening of entertainment watching the feature film Undermined - Tales from The Kimberley. Australia's vast and unspoiled Kimberley region is under threat with mining, pastoralism and irrigated agriculture driving an unprecedented land grab. Undermined investigates the politics of an area now branded "the future economic powerhouse of Australia" and what this means for our First People and their unique cultural landscapes. It is a free event but bookings are a required, through Sticky Tickets.
Wednesday, July 10
- Nelson Bay march and entertainment
- 9am to 3pm
March from Nelson Bay Bowling Club down Stockton Street to Foreshore Park (near d'Albora Marina). Rides and fun for kids, beading and weaving demonstrations, plus local entertainment. Barbecue lunch and refreshments available.
Thursday, July 11
- NAIDOC Touch Football Championship
- 8am to 2.30pm
- Lakeside Sporting Complex, Raymond Terrace
The Port Stephens NAIDOC Touch Football Championship brings together the local Aboriginal community, NSW Police, Port Stephens Council, the Royal Australian Air Force and the NSW Education Department to celebrate history, culture and the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples while playing a few friendly games of touch football.
- Mural unveiling by Worimi artist Jason Russell
- Lakeside ovals, Raymond Terrace
Friday, July 12
- Family fun day at Murrook Culture Centre, Williamtown
- 10am to 3pm
Head along for entertainment, rides and face painting for kids, stalls and workshops from community service providers. Barbecue lunch and refreshments available.
- June 29 to August 1
- NAIDOC Week Art Exhibition, Raymond Terrace Library
- June 28, Raymond Terrace Library art space, 1pm, meet and greet with the artist
Worimi Wild Flowers by Pauline Coxon will be on display for the duration of NAIDOC Week at the Raymond Terrace Art Space at Raymond Terrace Library.
- July 11 and 12
- NAIDOC Week Free Film Festival, Raymond Terrace and Tomaree libraries
The story of blind Indigenous artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, one of Australia's most important and acclaimed voices, whose music took inspiration from his country in North East Arnhem Land. (96 mins)
Showing: July 11, Raymond Terrace Library, 2.30pm and July 12, Tomaree Library, 10am
Movie: Putuparri and the Rainmakers
Set against the backdrop of their long fight to reclaim their traditional lands, Putuparri and the Rainmakers is an emotional, visually breathtaking story of love, hope and the survival of Aboriginal law and culture against all odds. (97 mins)
Showing: July 11, Raymond Terrace Library, 10am and July 12, Tomaree Library, 12pm
Utopia is a vast region in northern Australia and home to the oldest human presence on earth. 'This film is a journey into that secret country,' says John Pilger in Utopia. 'It will describe not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance - from one utopia to another'. (110 mins)
Showing: July 11, Raymond Terrace Library, 12.30pm
Two city-bred siblings are stranded in the Australian Outback, where they learn to survive with the aid of an Aboriginal boy on his "walkabout": a ritual separation from his tribe. This is the original 1971 movie featuring David Gulpilil. (101 mins)
Showing: July 12, Tomaree Library, 2pm
Movie: The Song Keepers
The inspiring, joyous story of an 32 member Aboriginal women's choir who embark on a historical tour of Germany, taking back the baroque Lutheran hymns, but in their own Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara languages and on their own terms. (88 mins)
Showing: July 12, Tomaree Library, 4pm