Mid June saw indigenous sport development officer Ebony travel west to deliver softball clinics in preparation for the upcoming Nullagine festival. First stop was Warralong community who were excited to see the troop carrier arrive at the school gates for an afternoon of sport. Clinics were shortly underway with the young and middle aged classes combining for a game of cricket softball to engage the teenage boys. With teachers assistant Tahlia Thomas present, captain of the Warralong softball team, the children were fielding on the opposite side of the community as two balls were hit out of the basketball court clearing the first row of houses. Young girls watched in ore attempting to replicate what they’d seen during their turn at bat. As the siren sounded kids finished the clinic with a throwing competition aiming at the smarter than smoking target and winning a hat when their throw was on aim.
With the enthusiasm of school sport carried over to after school sport, kids gathered at the community oval to start a game of softball. The older kids and especially teenage girls were enthusiastic to learn new skills such as the windmill pitching and catching positions while the upcoming youngsters kept occupied on the side throwing soft balls and attempting to hit of the tee with a bat marginally smaller than the person using it. The game continued until sunset made the yellow ball hard to see resulting in ‘time and game’ called for the day.
With assistance from newly appointed Recreation Officer Sharonette Tom before school sport was delivered the following morning building on the skills taught on the previous day. As the school siren rang it was time for Ngurra Kujungka to depart with high fives from the kids who had exhausted some of their energy before going to class. Parnpajinya was next on the itinerary with a quick overnight stay in Marble Bar to meet with the Shire of East Pilbara and assist in delivering after school sport at the youth centre.
On arrival to Newman YMCA staff were busy preparing boys from Parnpajinya and Jigalong communities in to junior football teams competing in the Newman league. As football boots were distributed and jumpers put over heads the kids stood out on the field showing off their raw talent. The Newman football league provides a great opportunity for our Parnpajinya male recreation officer Zyrack Frank in training young boys aiming to compete in the league. The opportunity extends to our female recreation officer Petrina Jackman during the summer as the softball season takes off.
A trip out with the YMCA crew on Saturday saw a fun day of recreation at the river. With the camp stove cooking away a walk down the river sparked a ‘markers up’ contest with majority soon to be soaked by unintended splashing or choosing to cool off in the river. After lunch, trees were utilised as goal posts in a true desert football game with staff and kids mingling to create two even teams. Kicking snaps in style seemed to be the theme for the day with passionate celebrations to follow.
Sunday morning saw ISDO Ebony take the Parnpajinya softball team for a training session structured similar to those of a state team. Teaching the girls basic skills of warming up and stretching to prevent injury followed by a skill technique component focused on a correct throwing progression. With field positioning reiterated the girls took to a scratch match as coaching was given to batters who required assistance. To finish, a pitching and catching component was included focusing on the windmill pitching action to a catcher in the squatting position. This is yet to be introduced to the Western Desert League games with the Parnpajinya girls enthusiastic in giving the new technique a go at the upcoming festival.
After a great weekend spent with the Parnpajinya softball team and YMCA, Ngurra Kujungka ISDO Ebony set off for Telfer with a visit to Nullagine on the way. Arriving late afternoon with few kids in town, a game of cricket was played on the small grass oval. The following morning a whole school game of cricket softball saw boys and girls go head to head in a 3 innings game won by the girls. The smarter than smoking target came out for the last time this trip with kids once again rewarded for their throwing with a donated hat before returning to class.
Excitement was in the air with only two weeks left until Nullagine would be hosting round two of the Western Desert League. Community members were busy preparing the oval while kids were excited for the festival activities just around the corner.