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Our 2018 Youth Grant recipients are starting to undertake their projects! We were thrilled to receive our first report recently from Lenny, whose Youth Grant enabled him to fly from far east Arnhem Land to Darwin and then onto Tasmania for the AFL National Inclusion Carnival. The AFL Inclusion Carnival supports men aged 16 and over to take part in a round-robin carnival with teams representing the Northern Territory, NSW/ACT, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria Country, Victoria Metro, and Western Australia.

Lenny is incredibly passionate about AFL football and trained hard in the lead up to the carnival. In preparation for the carnival, Lenny’s team trained twice a week averaging 8 – 12 players training each session. Before the team left, they practiced their game in the AFL 9s social competition, which enabled them to learn to play together against other teams. They were thrilled to make their first win in the social competition before leaving and this assisted in team preparation regarding player positions and tactics for the carnival.

Day one of competition was a lightning carnival format, where states played each opposing team (seven games) to determine which division they played in. Lightning games play seven-minute halves with a four-minute break in between. The Northern Territory had a tough draw early on playing against the stronger Victorian teams (Metro & Country), SA and QLD.

Northern Territory won their first game against WA in only their second year of competition. They then proceeded to win the next two lightning carnival games against Tasmania and NSW/ACT. The Northern Territory finished top of division two, narrowly missing out on playing in the division one pool which came down to losing by a goal to QLD in the final minutes of the game during the lightning carnival.

The pool rounds saw the NT continue their winning streak defeating WA and Tasmania again in the longer four quarter format (10min quarters). The NT then dropped its final game in the pool rounds to NSW/ACT and awaited results to see if they would play in the division two grand final.

The NT was placed into the division two grand final and played against WA in a curtain raiser to the Hawthorn vs Fremantle AFL game. The Northern Territory played hard in a close contest but were not able to get ahead trailing by only one goal for most the game. The final score saw WA 5.3-33 defeat the NT 3.1-19.

Nick Eades, coach of the NT Inclusion Team, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Lenny who has lived and still lives in one of the most remote places in Australia, North East Arnhem Land. This opportunity gives Lenny an experience to travel interstate once thought not possible.”