For the Love of the Game
On the 17th of July Looma Aboriginal Community welcomed some new faces as the Claremont Tigers Football Club descended upon the community. The Tigers were invited to Looma to get a first-hand look at what resources are available in remote communities and what hardships boys of a similar age to them experience if they are interested in playing WAFL Football. The Claremont Colts players arrived in Looma after their two hour flight from Perth to Broome followed by a two hour drive from Broome to Looma.
The Tigers arrived in Looma, jumped out of the cars and headed straight to the oval to mingle with the community members. A goal kicking competition quickly turned into a scratch match with community kids and the Colts players forming two teams and splitting into Skins against Shirts. Whilst the game was on, Garnduwa’s Mick Albert and Looma’s Lyle Buck started the BBQ and fried up some sausages and onions in readiness for the boys once they finished their game.
After the game some of Looma’s senior footballers were having a chat with the Claremont boys about the importance of why they play the game and the difficulties of playing country football, especially if you live in a remote community. The Claremont boys, having not experienced community life, quickly realised how easy they have it living in Perth when 14 year old Remahli Skeen explained to them that he cannot access junior football or play football in his own age group unless he leaves Looma and attends school in Broome, Derby or Perth. Remahli told them that in order to have a real go on a football team he has to decide to leave his family and friends for extended periods of time and leave the community which he loves. After the BBQ the Claremont boys enjoyed a well-earned swim at Myroodah Crossing along the Fitzroy River. It was the perfect location for them to experience the tranquility of the Kimberley Region before setting up camp for the night.
The following day the Claremont boys woke up to the quiet of the community with no sounds from cars or other city noises. It was just peacefulness. The only sound coming from the community was from the bus doing the rounds to pick up the senior footballers who play for the Looma Eagles Football Club in the West Kimberley Football League. Claremont’s Talent Scout Warren Parker asked Sonny Ozies, Derby’s Smarter than Smoking Active Community Coordinator, to tell the boys why the bus was doing its rounds in the community so early in the morning. The Claremont boys are accustomed to their early starts as most Colts games begin at 9am in Perth, but Sonny explained that the Looma Eagles had extra early starts on Saturday mornings because their football club has to travel over 200 km to their games in Broome.
Sonny explained, “They cannot just arrive in various vehicles or have their family members drop them off and pick them up because they are headed to Broome to play football which is two hours away. Then they have to travel back to Looma after the game finishes so they are gone for 7 to 8 hours just to play a football game. They do not seem to mind because they do it for the love of the game! They enjoy football and the 15-16 year olds playing in the senior team need to access these types of competitions so they can get the skills and exposure they need if they want to play at the WAFL level in the next couple of years.” Sonny also mentioned to the Claremont boys that they would be having a similar experience that day as they would have to prepare themselves for their own football game against the Kimberley Spirit Team awaiting them in Fitzroy Crossing which is 170 kilometres east of Looma.
Claremont’s Warren Parker extended a huge thank you to the Looma Community and the Looma Eagles Football Club for allowing the Tigers to visit as without their support this experience could not have been possible.