Big River Hawks visit Melbourne

Each year Hawthorn Football Club opens its doors to a select group of players from the Big River Hawks. One of the cornerstone partnerships of the Hawthorn Indigenous Program, the Katherine based Big River Hawks provide the opportunity for young men and women throughout Katherine to train and play football together in the Darwin based NTFL.

Importantly, the Big River Hawks Football Club allows players to pursue their sporting dreams whilst remaining in their communities as role models. Weekly selection not only takes into account the normal expectations of any football team, but also relies on players’ commitment to education and employment.

As a partner of the Big River Hawks, Hawthorn Football Club is proud to be able to offer an annual cultural experience for a select group of players who represent the values and attitudes of the Big River Hawks. Not only do players have the opportunity to experience life in metropolitan Melbourne, but they also gain access to the inner sanctum of the football club that very few are lucky enough to experience, allowing them to appreciate the lifestyle choices, sacrifices and dedication required to become an elite athlete.

This year’s travelling party boarded a flight from Darwin on the first Thursday of July, so that they would spend the first weekend of NAIDOC week enjoying their Hawthorn Football Club focussed weekend in Melbourne.

Despite a late arrival the night before, the group were up bright and early on Friday morning, eagerly anticipating the weekend ahead. The day started with a Hawthorn training session that included watching the players warm up in the inner sanctum of the gymnasium followed by an introduction and photos with the playing group. The team then made their way outside where the Big River Hawks watched as the Hawks ran through their intense training session.

Moving away from the frantic pace of the training track, the group were joined for lunch by Hawks players Jarman Impey and Marc Pittonet. The relaxed café setting provided a wonderful opportunity for the Big River Hawks players to chat to their AFL idols about life in the big league and their experience progressing from junior footballers to the heights of AFL players.

Friday afternoon was all about the home of football, the MCG. The Big River Hawks crew spent the afternoon at the National Sports Museum enjoying the rich history of Australian sport. Having walked through the halls of history, their attention quickly turned to the present as they made their way into the stands of the ‘G to watch the Tigers take on the Crows and experience the excitement of live Friday night footy.

Whether or not the group had any sleep is debateable, but they were up bright and early again on Saturday as they joined the Box Hill Hawks captains run, gaining further insight into the game-day preparation that takes place for high performance teams. With the Box Hill game not for a few hours, the group jumped at the opportunity to spend majority the day at Melbourne Zoo and experience another iconic Melbourne destination.

On the back of the zoo, attention quickly returned to the Hawks for this footy mad crowd. With the Hawks v Bulldogs double header at Etihad Stadium on the agenda, Saturday night proved a big hit. Thankfully, the Hawks put on a clinic defeating the bulldogs by more than 10 goals.

The final day of formalities on Sunday saw the Big River Hawks return to Box Hill City Oval to watch the Hawthorn VFLW team record another victory. Importantly, the growth of the women’s game allows for excellent access for the young Big River Hawks women who now have bona fide sporting role models to look up to.

Having watched all three of the Hawks teams over the weekend, the group finished their trip with a scenic view of Melbourne from the viewing platform at Eureka Tower before heading back to their hotel for a final night’s rest before flying back to Darwin in the morning.

The annual Big River Hawks trip is a wonderful event and one which the club and Big River volunteers hold in high regard. It provides an opportunity to reward those young men and women who are striving towards becoming leaders in their community, both on and off the field.

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