The group of 10 pupils from the Kalkaringi School have spent the past few days in Melbourne sightseeing and visiting attractions, going to a local primary school and will take part in the specially-organised tournament at the Waverley District Netball Association.
The Kalkaringi School is located 480km south-west of Katherine in the Northern Territory and teacher Melanie Norton said for the majority of the kids on the trip, it’s the first time they have been outside the Top End.
The group had to travel around eight hours to get to Darwin to catch their flight to Melbourne.
Fundraising by the Kalkaringi community and the Waverley District Netball Association has helped to pay for the trip.
Norton said they’ve also been fortunate to receive donations from businesses such as the Australian Scholarship Group and individuals, who wanted to help give the girls an experience of a lifetime to make the journey south.
Energetic Apparel has provided the team with new uniforms that they can wear in Sunday’s tournament while the WDNA arranged hoodies for the entire group to wear.
Norton said she was approached by the St Dominic’s Netball Club, which plays in the Waverley District Netball Association, to start a netball program in a remote community. The school has around 170 kids enrolled from prep right through to Year 12.
“I put the idea of netball to the girls in Grades 5 – 7 and they were all really excited to learn a new sport,” Norton said.
“We don’t have a netball court at school, so every training we had to draw our own lines in chalk on the school basketball court to mark the different thirds for netball. Once we had done a heap of fundraising and had enough money that we knew we could make the trip happen, we told the girls about it.
“They were told out of the 20 who were attending training, only 10 would be able to come to Melbourne. These would be the 10 girls who tried the hardest at trainings, worked hard in class and came to school every day.”
The team will train on Friday night with the WDNA’s 13/U representative side, which Norton said would be their first contact with netballers other than themselves and their teachers since starting the program mid-year.
“The girls are very excited about meeting some other girls their age and playing a real game of netball,” Norton said.
“They are also excited to play people other than the teachers. We played against the teachers every week for about the last five weeks. At the start, the teachers held back so the girls could have a chance but by the end the teachers were playing their hardest and the girls still won the game.
Mylrea said the WDNA is excited by their association with the school and community in Kalkaringi.
“I’ve been up there twice and when you look at what is available to our kids here (in Melbourne), it’s great to give these kids an opportunity to come down and experience that,” Mylrea said.
“It’s absolutely fantastic – everybody has been really supportive and we can’t wait to see them on court in action.”
The school has now been registered as an ANZ NetSetGO Centre and received equipment from Netball NT. They are looking forward to expanding the program next year – and possibly enter a team into a competition in Katherine.
“We have already planned to continue training next term and hope to get some more girls involved,” Norton said.
“We plan to look into competitions in Katherine so they can continue to play netball and improve their skills.”