Each term Youth off the Streets Blacktown Outreach coordinates various sporting tournaments which promote sportsmanship and healthy living. The focus of this particular tournament was around celebrating and supporting NAIDOC Week.
The day started off with a smoking ceremony and welcome to country. The tournament commenced straight after and was composed of ten teams of ten formed from local youth services and high schools. In total, the tournament had approximately 200 attendees, 150 of which were young people.
This year we had our highest number of female participants and even had two all-female teams (Blacktown Youth College & St Mary’s Flexi centre). The referees for the day were two qualified local Indigenous young people: Sam and Chris*.
Sam had previously attended some of the programs offered at Blacktown Outreach. Since then, he has given up his time to support many of our events and this year is his 2nd consecutive year refereeing our Naidoz Oz tag tournament. Chris was part of the Under 16’s NSW Blues rugby league squad and will be representing Australia later this year in the under 16’s Australian Oz- tag team. It was great to see these two young people give back to their communities and help out on the day!
Both Sam and Chris contributed to making this a fantastic day. Throughout each game, young people demonstrated team work and resilience. In the end, Fairfield Outreach ended up taking home the trophy for first place, with Emerton Youth Centre coming in a close second.
Sporting tournaments are a strategic and effective way to maintain our presence and commitment to the community. They also allow us to create links and transitional pathways between young people and local youth organisations. This year we were fortunate with having 7- 8 local youth indigenous services hold stalls at our event.
Blacktown Outreach generally runs four tournaments per year. The next tournament to watch out for will be a soccer gala day which will be held in September. We are looking forward to seeing a repeat of a successful event, and hope we can get even more young people involved!
*Names changed to protect privacy of the young person.