The Centralian advocate Tue 28 Feb 2012
Centralian Advocate; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Alice Springs; Tennant Creek (N.T.) -- Newspapers; Alice Springs (N.T.) -- Newspapers.; Australia, Central -- Newspapers
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v. 66 no. 79
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
28 Centralian Advocate, Tuesday, February 28, 2012 P U B : C A D V D A T E : 2 8 -F E B -2 0 1 2 P A G E : 2 8 C O L O R : C M Y K SPORT Tigers inspire new breed Warren Thomson Gibson Turner was a real hit with the kids Richmonds Tyrone Vickery joins in at Harts Range School Pictures: WARREN THOMSON Tiger Alex Rance works with a student at Harts Range School AUSSIE RULES RICHMOND Tigers players Alex Rance, Tyrone Vickery and Gibson Turner returned to Melbourne on Wednesday after a three-day visit to Central Australia. The three AFL stars were in the region as part of the Outback Tigers program, which promotes the importance of school and attending school regularly. While in Alice Springs, Alcoota and Atitjere, they informed students that skills taught at school such as reading, writing, listening and mathematics are important skills needed to be an AFL footballer. The players visited Alice Springs schools on Monday, and on Tuesday they went out to Harts Range to go to Harts Range School in Atitjere and Intiarntwe School in Alcoota. The players were extremely popular at both schools and spoke about the importance of school and had a kick-to-kick and also helipad out in classes at Harts Range School. Harts Range Schools involvement with the Outback Tigers program has seen improvement in attendance and student behaviour. Harts Range School principal Edward Duffill said: Ive been here for the past six months and one of your sports guys came in from Alice Springs on three occasions, which went really well and we received a lot of the prizes from Dick Smiths that we use as incentives for attendance. Those who are doing well seem to do a bit better. I cant tell you the results across the board as it is very hard to monitor which is more of an issue with our systems than anything else. Its been particularly effective with the boys, and as a positive incentive for the boys to behave when the players come out. Longer term than that, but more marginal, on a week-to-week basis it works quite well as an incentive. The children definitely enjoyed having Richmond here and, as you saw today, the older boys who havent headed back to Adelaide yet started to wander over, which shows the pulling power (of AFL players). You might get a few changed allegiances, but I wouldnt count on it. A couple of success stories were unveiled during the Tigers visit, w i t h 1 0 - y e a r - o l d S t e f a n Bloomfield who, after getting suspended twice, came back to school with a new attitude and has since gone up 10 reading levels, while another student, Anastasia Hudson was awarded the top attender with an attendance rate of 99 per cent during the last semester of 2011. Richmond community manager Michael Lacy said: I guess the individual stories that we hear makes our work worthwhile. For Anastasia to be at school 99 per cent throughout the whole year and 100 per cent I think during the third and fourth term is unbelievable. Its such a great thing and, through our sponsorship with Dick Smith, we are able to provide her with a laptop or iPod to reward her for her great school attendance. The same with Stefan. The story of a kid who was struggling at school and getting suspended and has managed to turn around. We are not going to say that it was our doing, but hopefully the work we are doing is assisting schools to support these kids. You cant really underestimate the impact AFL players have on the community, especially the kids that we visit. I think being able to visit a number of schools in Alice Springs and Harts Range and Alcoota is an important community initiative and the feedback from the teachers has been really positive. They are always grateful for us to come out and try to emphasise the importance of going to school each day and how it relates to football. Duffill hopes his school can continue to be involved in the Outback Tigers program. He said: I would certainly hope so, and that is something that we will need to negotiate. Talking to (Korin Damadji Institute director) Belinda (Duarte), I think we can work on something quite positive outside the actual sport of footy and bring it more into school classroom orientation. On Wednesday, Turner, Vickery and Rance got up bright and early to go on a bus run to pick up kids going to Gillen Primary School, which was where Turner did some of his primary school education. Lacy said: Gibbo spent three years at Gillen Primary School and Johnny the bus driver is still driving the bus and knew Gibbo. To say to kids hopping on the bus that we have three AFL players on the bus and one of them went to school on this bus is a pretty powerful message for some of these kids. The three players gained a lot from the experience and it is likely that Turner will play a part in future Outback Tiger program visits. Lacy said: I talked to Gibbo about his trip and he said that he was meeting people he had never really met before because everyone seems to know him now, or know of him, and they were all keen to get a photo with him and his autograph, or chat to him. And you can see how proud people are of him. His family, who we met on the trip, is very proud that has been able to make it this far. Hes already become a role model in the area and hopefully he has a successful football career, which means he will become a bigger role model for everyone in Central Australia, especially the indigenous community. From a community point of view, it is fantastic to have him on board at Richmond. The work we do up here is nothing to do with recruiting. It was by chance or luck to get him before Christmas as a rookie. The fact that we are working here in the community is really going to help him settle into AFL life in Melbourne. It also allows players at Richmond the opportunity to see where Gibbo is from and makes them understand how far he has come, and I guess that means he gains more respect from the players because of that. Tyrone and Alex speak extremely well in front of kids and Rancey is a magician when it comes to working with kids. Tyrone is such a smart guy and well-spoken and I feel lucky that we had those two guys. On the other hand, its a good development opportunity. Theyve never been to a remote indigenous community before and on Tuesday night we were eating kangaroo tail with Gibbos family. Speaking to some of the elders there was pretty unique and is something that not many people get to do. We thank Central Australia for being so welcoming, especially with our players during the past couple of days. I think the players and our staff get as much from being up here and learning from the local people as the people get from meeting the players. Richmond are likely to return when the club has its mid-year break, but it is uncertain where it will visit. Lacy said: We will try to mix it up. It was the first time we have taken players out to Harts Range and Alcoota, but weve been out to P a p u n y a , S a n t a T e r e s a , Hermannsburg and Amoonguna in the past few years. Weve seen a lot but we want to continue getting back to those communities as much as we can, and we want try to get away from it being a one-off visit and then never be seen again.