BUILDING CONNECTION: Andrew Doyle, founder of Nogoa Natives Rugby League Football Club.
BUILDING CONNECTION: Andrew Doyle, founder of Nogoa Natives Rugby League Football Club. Taylor Battersby

Building bonds in club

RUGBY LEAGUE: More than any other football club, the Nogoa Natives is a group of people - families, players, supporters and kids - who have come together to be a part of the game they love while at the same time building bonds with each other and their community.

Founder of the Indigenous rugby league club, Andrew Doyle, said this week members enjoyed getting together as a "family” with a focus on mentoring young players and respecting and receiving advice from elders.

The club entered four Central Queensland Indigenous teams - a men's team, women's team, and under 17 boys and under 17 girls teams - in the Mackay Indigenous Rugby League Carnival in October last year with all four teams making it to the finals.

"Which is pretty successful for our first year,” Mr Doyle said.

He said a trophy night was held last month to recognise players' efforts, including the player of the carnival who demonstrated the clubs five key statements which are culture, community, respect, mentor and education.

Mr Doyle said that during the carnival male and female players separately spent time together for "bonding and cultural education”.

"That's what we do - men's business and women's business.

"With the men, the elders tell the boys about how they came to be themselves, how life was for them growing up, and what they had to endure.

"Lots of the younger ones don't know what the older ones have done for us so it was an eye-opener.

"They talked about the stolen generation, what they had to if they couldn't find jobs, a bit about domestic violence, mental health and how to support each other and your mates.

"It's good for everyone to see the significance of 'spirit' and culture.”

He said the club was now seeking sponsors for this year, looking at any other carnivals to enter, and was planning on playing again at the Mackay carnival in October.

Mr Doyle said they hoped to organise a touch football competition to run during NAIDOC Week in Emerald.

He said other sports would also be embraced as the club grew, including touch football, rugby union, basketball and netball.

"We're finding that sport is a soft approach for finding common ground for Indigenous people,” Mr Doyle said.

"We get them into sport and we can talk about all the other underlying things,” he said. "I would love to see us as a full-blown organisation where we can support our youth and community and elders as well.

"We'd also like to hold events and run our own carnivals.”

For more information or to offer sponsorship, contact the Nogoa Natives via their Facebook page.

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