2019 KRSP/Claremont Football Club Kimberley Road Trip – Eastern Leg Report

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - 10:45 AM

by Warren Parker (Claremont Talent Manager)

The Claremont Football Club values its relationship with the Kimberley Region as one of our country recruiting zones rich with talented players. We aim to be a positive influence in the Kimberley Communities as we promote positive life pathways through footballing opportunities.

With the support of the Kimberley Regional Service Providers, the club has set up a Kimberley Road Trip which will see a number of our players and staff visit various communities in the West, East and Central Kimberley Regions to run footballing clinics and attend various football events.

The first leg of this Road Trip took place from Wednesday 28th May – Sunday 2nd of June and saw myself, along with Michael Ablett (WAFC), Declan Cormack (CFC DO), Jack Cooley and Quentin Shandley (Colts Player’s) travel from Kununurra through to Broome, stopping at a variety of communities along the way to spread a positive message of participation and fun through football clinics.

I’m not a great writer, but I’ve written a few notes about our trip that I’d like to share with you all. Hopefully it’s a good endorsement of what the club is trying to achieve in the region, and it gives you all a good idea of some of the challenges that our players from the region face in pursuing their careers both on and off field.

Our travelling party landed in Kununurra late Tuesday afternoon and made our way to the Town Oval where they were met by 80-90 local kids aged between 6-12, all eager to have a kick. We set up a number of Auskick and Junior Football drills and had an absolute ball with the kids for 2 hours before handing out some prizes and heading back to our accommodation at the Kununurra Country Club. A nice place for anyone thinking of holidaying up in Kununurra.

The next morning, we woke early, fueled up with breakfast and hit the road for Warmun which is 220km south of Kununurra. After dealing with some questionable song choices from Jack, we arrived in Warmun and met with the school who were ready for us to run our next session.

20-30 boys and girls took 1 ½ hours out of their usual school day to join us on the oval and participate in various skill drills and games. The Warmun kids were also well prepared with questions that they wanted to ask the players about playing football at WAFL level which was a great little initiative.

After wrapping up the Warmun clinic we got back into the car and started our journey to Halls Creek (160km) where we were scheduled to assist with Junior Football later that afternoon. We arrived in Halls Creek, checked in to our accommodation at the Kimberley Hotel and headed off to the Oval for the session.

Volunteers on the ground in Halls Creek consistently run Junior Football Sessions on Wednesday evenings and it was a great opportunity for us to jump in and help out. Declan went to work setting up drills and we played a number of games with the 70 strong crowd of kids aged between 6-15 before playing a couple of “structured” games.

At the conclusion of the clinic, the local police assisted by running a BBQ for the kids from the community which I hear is a regular thing and something that impressed me greatly. What better way to keep the kids entertained and out of trouble than kicking the footy before filling their bellies with a sausage sizzle. Fantastic!

We certainly slept well that night after a big day and it was back on the road the next morning as we headed to Fitzroy Crossing, 290km west of Halls Creek. We attended another clinic that afternoon run by Garnduwa employees, one of which was a familiar face in Lewis Henry, one of our Colts boys from 2018. Although we’d love him back at Claremont, it was a real pleasure seeing him back in the Kimberley being a positive mentor and role model to the kids in the area. That’s what it’s all about.

Lewis introduced us to the 60 kids at the session and away we went, playing goal kicking games and rob the nest before breaking them into two groups of young and older kids to play a few games. Safe to say that we had just as much fun as the young kids from the area, although we struggled to get a kick!

We then headed back to our home for the next 3 days which was the Fitzroy Crossing River Lodge. Lovely accommodation which we shared with a large number of Kangaroos who do not like to use gates… but that’s a story for another day.

Friday morning was a great opportunity for us to take in the local area and our tour guide was none other than Quentin “Junior” Shandley, one of our travelling party who grew up in Joy Spring Community (20km out of Fitzroy Crossing). Junior took us out “hunting”, which is a skill that we clearly need to work on as we returned with donuts. We did get a great view of the river thought which was worth the effort.

Later that evening we ran a session for the Central Kimberley Colts Team which were playing that weekend in the Kimberley Colts Championships. Myself and Michael Ablett took a few drills and helped to educate a few of the local coaches while Jack and Junior put on the boots and had a run with the boys.

The next 2 days saw 5 teams (West, East, Central, Kutjungka & Derby) descend on Fitzroy Crossing to take part in the 2019 Kimberley Colts Championships and compete for bragging rights in the Kimberley.

The Championships has been a marquee event on the Kimberley Football Calendar for a number of years and is one that I love attending. The talent on display is first class and it’s great to see so many players, staff and volunteers from all over the Kimberley come together and put on such a wonderful event.

Our Claremont Reps were more than willing to get their hands dirty and assisted with Umpiring duties for the weekend which was a huge effort! We also come together for an educational workshop with all players to show them what football at the higher levels looks like. We can only hope that our communications with the players might spark a number of them to pursue their football in Perth at Claremont over the next few seasons. There are some guns that I’d love to see in the Claremont Kit!

I must congratulate Carl Merrison (Garnduwa) and all of his helpers for putting on such a great event. I can only hope that this event continues to be a marquee event and it is supported long term by the club, WAFC and Kimberley Leagues as it’s such an important event for the youth of the area.

At the conclusion of the Carnival, which was eventually won by the Central Kimberley boys (must have been our training session on Friday…) we stuck around to present a number of awards including the MVP which went to Zephy Surprise and was presented by none other than Quentin “Junior” Shandley who won the same award in 2018 before moving down to Perth in 2019 to play Colts football with Claremont. Maybe the same pathway sits for the 2019 winner…

We then jumped in the car and began the 400km journey back to Broome for a 6:20pm flight to Perth.

This was an absolutely fantastic trip and I’m sure my words don’t do it justice. It was great to take Michael Ablett (WAFC) and Jack Cooley (Colts) for the first time to see where our Kimberley boys come from. The higher the level of awareness the better as we look to provide opportunities for our Kimberley zoned players to join us in Perth and in retaining the players once they are here at the club.

It’s a very different world in the city which we must acknowledge and help to bridge the gap.

A huge thanks for KRSP and Gary Johnson for their continued support of our endeavors in the Kimberley They have been great supporters for a number of years and have a passion for seeing communities in the Kimberley get access to opportunities both on and off field.

The next leg of the trip takes place from Wednesday 5th June to Sunday 9th June and will see Football Manager Kepler Bradley and Head Coach Darren Harris head to Broome, Bidyadanga and Beagle Bay with a number of players and staff to do much the same as we did in the east. I look forward to seeing some of the photos and hearing of their experience on the western side of the region.

Signing off,

Warren Parker (Claremont – Talent Manager)