The Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands is home to the most remote Australian rules football competition in the country, spanning more than 200,000 square kilometres in remote South Australia and Northern Territory.
- The APY League, taking in football and softball, is the most remote in Australia
- More than 400 people participate in the league
- The South Australian government has announced funding to resurface and fence Kaltjiti Football Oval
What started as a five-team competition in 2008 has now expanded to a 10-team competition, with a 10-team softball league also run in conjunction for the women.
Over the weekend, Eyre Peninsula football operations coordinator for the SANFL, Richard Murphy, travelled up to the APY Lands.
He said approximately 400 people participate in the competition.
“More than 80 per cent of the male population that’s aged between 17 and 35-up on the lands play,” he said.
“It gives them a great outlet and something to look forward to on their weekends.”
Mr Murphy says there was an abundance of talent on the lands.
He said there was probably a dozen players he saw at the weekend that could potentially head to Adelaide and have a crack in the city.
“There’s certainly some really talented players up there, just their natural ability to handle the footy and things like that,” he said.
“A quarter doesn’t go by where you don’t see someone standing on someone’s shoulders and taking a big hanger or kicking a brilliant goal.”
A scratch-match was organised for the kids in the community of Kalka — around 10 kilometres from the intersection of the NT, WA, and SA borders — on Sunday after one of the teams forfeited.
Mr Murphy said usually pairs of boots were donated to kids from the communities, but it had been difficult this year due to a shortage.
“They face a number of challenges up there … one of them is the ability to go and buy footy boots,” he said.
“Some of the players choose not to wear footy boots as well. I mean, they’re playing on dirt ovals up there, which are pretty harsh.
“It’s what they’re used to and they love it. They still go in pretty hard and hit the ground. It’s just exciting to watch.”
The remote nature of the ovals mean there were often game delays with animals running onto the field.
Mr Murphy said in the softball competition over the weekend a camel sat at first base for 10 minutes.
“There’s a bit of wildlife up there. You’ll quite often see dogs, donkeys, or camels out on the grounds,” he said.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher has announced $102,000 to resurface the Kaltijit Football Oval and install new fencing.
Mr Maher said the state government was committed to fund projects that supported and strengthen Indigenous communities by responding directly to their needs.
“The Kaltijit oval is an important part of the local community,” Mr Maher said.
“The funding will not only benefit people using the oval through resurfacing and new fencing, but will also support local jobs.”