Two national athletics representatives – Richard Akera, a 400m runner; and Susan Makur Chuot, a national soccer player and AFL state footballer – visited Nullagine and Jigalong community schools over three days in early November 2013.
They were accompanied by Indigenous Sports Development Supervisor Tristen Walker and ISD Officer Daniel Tincknell. The visits included motivational talks on embracing new experiences and overcoming challenges, and activity sessions focussed on sprinting and shot put.
The talks were most interesting, with Susan and Richard sharing stories of their journeys from South Sudan to Uganda and Kenya to avoid the Sudanese civil war, before relocating to Australia in the early 2000s. Richard’s pet Monkey (in Uganda) and 10km daily walk for water captivated the children.
Following story time it was all action. Both Richard and Susan lead young and old in a number of activities including sprinting technique and races. As always, the children displayed great talent and enthusiasm.
On the final day of their tour, the team supported the much-anticipated Jigalong athletics carnival. With 30 different events for students in classes from kindy through to high school, the day was definitely action-packed. The Red vs Blue factions each drew plenty of support and cheering, and flailing ribbons as students, parents and teachers got into the spirit of the event.
The first races of the carnival were the 80, 60 and 40-metre sprints. The students triallied their newly-acquired sprinting techniques as they powered down the lanes with Richard and Susan keeping a close eye on the runners. A rough dirt track didn’t stop some of the high school students clocking some very impressive times.
Baton Relays, Shot Put, Leaderball, Flag Relays, Tunnel Ball and the Bean Bag Collect were events to follow. The penultimate event was the highly-anticipated water bucket relay race, in which students competed in a relay where they substituted a baton for a a container of water. This event was also a great way to keep cool in the scorching temperatures.
To complete a most enjoyable day filled with fun, activities and great sportsmanship, the final event involved the local police: The Tug-O-War, which ended in a draw (and the likely replacement next year of a replacement rope!)
A special ‘thank-you’ is extended to the Department of Sport and Recreation and Newcrest Mining Limited for making the visit possible. Thanks also are due to the Nullagine and Jigalong schools for providing the opportunity for Susan and Richard to experience the Western Desert communities.