Indigenous players from across Defence are preparing to take part, for the first time, in the Koori Carnival, an indigenous Australian Rules football carnival to be held at the Epsom-Huntly Reserve Football Ground in Bendigo, Victoria, from 16-19 October.
The event will attract more than 5,000 indigenous members from across Australia with more than 25 teams participating.
Chairman of Australian Defence Force Australian Rules Brigadier Matt Hall said the carnival was a great opportunity to promote indigenous participation in Australian Defence Force footy.
“We’re proud of our ability to not just promote men’s and women’s footy but to ensure Australian Defence Force indigenous members can participate regardless of skill level and locality; our indigenous community brings unique athletic abilities to our national sport and we need to recognise this and harness their skills at every opportunity,” he said.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Arthur Bagie, of HMAS Creswell, said he was eager to play in the event.
“I can’t wait to meet all the brothers again from the three services because everyone’s pretty keen and we’re all looking forward to it," Able Seaman Bagie said.
“It's not often that we get an opportunity to do something like this so we’ve all put our hands up to get involved,” he said.
Able Seaman Bagie said events like the Koori Carnival offered opportunities to indigenous members that were hard to beat.
“It’s a milestone for the future and it’s only going to get better from here,” he said.
“The more we take part in events like this the more exposure we will get and it will increase numbers of people wanting to play.”
Footballers across Victoria and the border regions of New South Wales and South Australia will participate in the carnival, including eight A-grade football teams.
Brigadier Hall said he hoped members would see it’s not just about the competition but the lifestyle that goes along with participating in team sports.
“Our aims of this carnival are promoting a healthy lifestyle where each and every person’s talent and ability is welcomed on the field,” he said.