ADF helps grow footy in Nauru

6 March 2024

The ADF has teamed up with the Australian Football League (AFL) to deliver a comprehensive sports training program aimed at fostering coaching, umpiring, sports trainer and first-aid skills among the Nauruan community.

Held from February 18 to 25, the program was part of Australia's broader commitment to the Pacific region and made a significant impact on the island nation's sports landscape.

As part of the program, local Australian rules clubs were gifted sports equipment, with numerous participants earning internationally recognised level one and two coaching and sports trainer qualifications.   

Described as the heartland of Australian rules football in the Pacific, the sport has been played in Nauru for more than 100 years. 

President AFL Nauru Wylie Detenamo said the passion for the sport in Nauru could not be understated.

“Generation after generation of families continue to embrace Australian rules football. It’s our number one sport,” he said. 

“We put up a Facebook post and say a game is on and everyone just turns up. They are so keen to play.”

The gravel ground at Linkbelt Oval in Yangor – the only place locals can really play – is considered “the best in the world” by Detenamo and his countrymen and women, where Australian Rules is the national sport.

Detenamo was full of praise for the ADF training program.

“We have loved working with the ADF and learnt a lot,” he said.

“They have shared a lot of resources with us and we feel so fortunate they were able to spend time with us and develop AFL.” 

Priority number one for AFL Nauru is to develop its people in the sport. 

“We lack exposure, so for us to try and make it to the next level we need to play games with other countries like Australia,” Detenamo said.

“I have learnt so much about coaching, umpiring and first aid. These are skills we desperately need to develop our game.”

'Being an instructor on the course was brilliant.' 

Air Force Corporal Bradley Stummer, network technician at Headquarters 81 Wing, was a program instructor on the course.

“I love football, and participating in this program offered me a great opportunity to work with a country that lives and breathes AFL,” he said.

“Nauru doesn’t quite have the luxuries we have back home, whether that be facilities or even the grounds themselves.”

Instructing the course on the Linkbelt Oval, without a speck of grass in sight, was unlike anything Corporal Stummer had experienced before.

“The oval was purely gravel and only seven out of the eight posts were standing, so it’s a unique place,” he said.

One door closed while another opened for Corporal Stummer when an injury abruptly ended his 20-year playing career and led him into coaching.

“I have always been involved in football, so when an opportunity came up for coaching, I took it,” he said.

“Being an instructor on the course was brilliant. Hearing how local coaches go about their training and how they engage young people was a very humbling experience.”

'The energy from the locals in Nauru was fantastic.'

Director of the Pacific Sports Program Commander Paul Cottier said, by investing in sports coaching and education, the program aimed to create a lasting legacy that would benefit the Nauruan community for years to come.

“Everybody wants to play sport, but what’s often lacking is the people to put the games on,” he said.

“It’s the volunteers, the committee, the presidents, officials, umpires, coaches and medical expertise.

“Part of the aim of the program is to show people when they finish playing, there are other opportunities to still be involved.”

Nauru and Australia have strong historic links with many members of the local community completing their education in Australia.

Commander Cottier said he heard stories from participants about their forefathers bringing the game of Australian Rules football to Nauru from Australia.

“Australian rules is part of their identity; they just love playing the game,” he said.

“The energy from the locals in Nauru was fantastic; the way participants continued to ask questions, to increase their knowledge. I can see this will continue to assist in the future of Australian Rules football in Nauru.”



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