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Indigenous newcomers welcomed to the world of athletics

Indigenous newcomers welcomed to the world of athletics

Athletics SA initiative encourages first-timers to give it a go

From no interest – and sometimes, no means of taking part – to consistent participation, and even the odd big win… that’s the athletics success story panning out with Indigenous novices at Port Adelaide.

The Athletics Indigenous Inclusion Program began as a pilot last year. Four youngsters turned up to the first session; by year’s end 36 young people had joined in, ranging from 11 to 17 years old.

The emphasis is on taking part and having a go, rather than blitzing the field - at least to begin with… One of the athletes did end up winning the Port Adelaide Athletics Club’s 300m Handicap at its annual carnival. Not bad, given that none of the program participants had previously played sport or competed in athletics!

To encourage their participation, and make it more do-able, the Inclusion Program offers free coaching, Athletics SA and Port Adelaide Athletics Club memberships, uniforms and entry into state events and competitions.

Organisers say the results have been terrific – and not just on the track. Those in the program are getting fitter and healthier, and above all enjoying themselves and the company of new friends.

Said one athlete: “I wouldn’t have come out before… I like meeting new people but I just want to know someone that’s already there… so that’s better for me.”

ORS has funded the program with $9,000 from its Sport and Recreation Development and Inclusion Program. It’s hoped it will become an ongoing initiative, and spread to other areas of Adelaide, and further to country areas where there aren’t any Indigenous sporting programs.

Port Adelaide Indigenous Program