Desert men shine in Reserves game

reservesFour talented men from the remote Western Desert communities of Punmu and Jigalong were selected to play for Swan Districts in a WAFL Reserves match against Peel Thunder last season.
Sylvester Colley, Ashwyn Biljabu, Braeden Atkins and Jeremy Sammy made the 1500km journey to Perth for a week of training and a game with the Swans.
After some first-quarter nerves, the men found their composure and, in the second quarter, produced some effective lace-out disposals to their new team-mates.
The first major contribution came from Sylvester, who capitalised on an assist from a fellow Swans player, to put through a goal from straight in front of the big posts.
Shortly after taking a spectacular mark that had him spinning to the ground, Ashwyn chased down an opponent to win a free kick (offering a rare example of where lightning follows Thunder).
In one particular passage of play, each of the three men (Jeremy was sidelined before the game with a shoulder injury) were involved in working the ball from deep in the back line, across to the flank, up the wing and finishing with another slick goal from Sylvester, much to the delight of the crowd.
reserves2The game ended with a convincing win to the Swans, their first for the season. The opportunity for the men to play in Perth came through Newcrest Mining’s partnership with the Swan Districts Football Club. The pathway that has been created for Martu men plays a very important role in a broader sports development program for the Western Desert, an initiative of Newcrest Mining in collaboration with the Department of Sport and Recreation. “It has been a good opportunity for us, seeing how they train here in Perth,” said Jeremy. “We will take some training drills and ideas back home with us. We all want to come back and do a pre-season.”