NRL stars visit Indigenous community

As Rugby League (NRL) great Petero Civoniceva arrived at RAAF Base Amberley alongside a team of former and current players, there was nervous excitement. A C-27J Spartan from 35SQN waited, ready to transport the rugby league immortals to the remote community of Kowanyama.

CAPTION: Arthur Beetson Foundation Ambassador and Rugby League great Petero Civoniceva meets children from the Far North Queensland community of Kowanyama. Story by Flying Officer Greg Hinks. Photo by Corporal Richard Lewis.

35 Squadron was proud to partner with the Arthur Beetson Foundation to transport former and current NRL players including David Stagg, Scott Prince and Ian Lacey, to the Far North Queensland town of Kowanyama to connect greats of the game with local Indigenous communities.

Captaining the C-27J Spartan was 35 Squadron pilot Flying Officer Brett Gould. He said the crew was ecstatic about seeing the remote far North Queensland town of Kowanyama and building the relationship between Air Force, the Arthur Beetson Foundation and the local community.

“The entire crew is looking forward to meeting the players, taking them flying in the C-27J Spartan and exploring Kowanyama,” Flying Officer Gould said.

“It’s incredibly rewarding showing people from remote communities around our military aircraft and taking them up for a flight, especially when they don’t usually get to see what the Air Force has to offer.

“It’s important for our training as well, allowing our crews to become proficient in accessing remote airfields, which is crucial in Humanitarian and Disaster Relief situations, such as bushfires, floods and cyclones.”

Arthur Beetson Foundation Ambassador and NRL great Petero Civoniceva said he was thrilled that the Air Force stepped up to assist.

“There are some nervous faces, but it’s the experience of a lifetime having the Air Force join us on the Arthur Beetson Foundation Immortals tour, giving us a platform to get into these remote communities and make a difference,” Mr Civoniceva said.

Over the four-day tour the crew from 35 Squadron and NRL greats met the Kowanyama locals, took part in a charity rugby league match and were treated to Indigenous cultural performances and bush tucker.

Event planner Nicole Lacey from the Arthur Beetson Foundation said the most important part was working with the local Indigenous Elders to encourage young people to complete their studies.

“We’ve been working with the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council, and one of their objectives is to increase school attendance, so bringing these players in boosts morale and fosters the idea of these kids going to school,” Ms Lacey said.

“Working with the Air Force has been great, Kowanyama is such a remote community that getting there is difficult, so having 35 Squadron take us there makes the trip so much easier.

“The team on the Immortals tour are extremely grateful and thank the Air Force and 35 Squadron for their support.”

CAPTION: Indigenous NRL players, their families and RAAF personnel prepare to board a C-27J Spartan aircraft bound for Kowanyama, at RAAF Base Amberley. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Emma Schwenke.






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