Arnhem Sports is an annual social and sporting carnival involving students aged 11 – 18+ yrs. All of the teams are from schools in remote communities in North Arnhem Land; Ramingining, Gapuwiyak, Elcho Island, Maningrida, Warruwi, Milingimbi and Yirrkala. There were about 24 students from each school, two girls and two boys for each age group. The closest school was a 3-hour drive away, the longest drive 6 hours and a few of the teams had to fly in. Each kid competed in all the events – track and field, cross-country and the team events of volleyball, netball and the premier event basketball. The best performers in the athletics can go on to represent the Arnhem Cluster at the NT Athletics Championship in Darwin later in the year.
All but the basketball was performed bare footed and then only a few had shoes. The standard of these kids was amazing, especially considering they do not have any ‘expert’ coaching, and for many they do not have access to some of the required equipment such as high jump mats. By the way, the highest jump was over 1.7 something centimetres and a boy who was taking off on his wrong foot because of a hamstring tear did that.
With such a packed program Tom and I were kept busy, especially during the track events. Diagnosing and treating lots of strains and sprains, and a bit of taping to keep them together. The kids, and the adults here, love a bit of a bandage or strapping. We have been amused to see a kid with a bandage on his or her arm and then a few minutes later it is on a leg. In addition, as you can see by the photos our conditions were not what we normal encounter. The Yolngu kids are very tactile and friendly so we would always have one or more holding our hands, draped across us or asking us questions.
This is the first time any physios have been at Arnhem Sports and our efforts were well appreciated. Tom, with the aid of the boys, ran an education session on injury management and stretching. This was a bit of a challenge with the language difficulties.
On the last night they had a disco to celebrate. This was not like our disco where everyone dancers. Instead, circles would form around individuals or small groups of dancers. Boy could these kids move, apart from the rap hip-hop style of dancing there was definitely the influence of their local traditional dance style. Lots of crazy hip wiggling like nothing I have seen.