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Voice of Real Australia: Young Guns hope to catch the bus to Alpurrurulam

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Lake Nash Young Guns AFL team.

Lake Nash Young Guns AFL team.

Alpurrurulam is a remote Indigenous community that lies on the Northern Territory side of the Queensland border.

Around 500 people live here in a town excised from the nearby Lake Nash pastoral station and many still know the township as Lake Nash.

Because it is some 1500 kilometres from the Territory capital Darwin it tends to look towards Queensland and Mount Isa in particular as the nearest population centre, some 300km away along the rough Sandover Highway.

Alpurrurulam is a dry community so many make the four-hour journey across bumpy and poorly maintained roads to get their grog.

But others have a healthier reason for making the trip each week.

Aussie Rules provides an important outlet for a community of few opportunities and entertainments and pride of place in the town goes to its footy team, the Lake Nash Young Guns.

They play an exciting brand of footy in the "marngrook" tradition.

Every evening in the season the town's red dirt oval is full of young players training, often barefoot or in socks.

The team plays in the Mount Isa AFL competition against the four Mount Isa-based clubs. All games are in Mount Isa which means an eight-hour return trip each week.

Players struggle to have food to provide them with the energy they need to get them through a full game of footy.

The team are lucky if they are able to hunt a kangaroo on the way into town as this will be their dinner Friday night before game day on Saturday.

Lake Nash Young Guns in action against the Mount Isa Tigers.

Lake Nash Young Guns in action against the Mount Isa Tigers.

There is a definite sense of "them and us" when they play a Mount Isa team and the action can be spiky on the field.

In 2019 Lake Nash was controversially banned from the 2020 season after on-field incidents including verbal abuse and fighting in two games, though the Territorians complained with some justification they were subject to racial abuse of their own.

The ban may have been a blessing in disguise as they would have struggled to make the 2020 season due to the pandemic and border closures.

Now they are back in 2021 but they have a problem to solve.

The team bus broke down many years ago so most weekends they use whatever cars are roadworthy to travel the 600km round trip, sometimes breaking down along the way.

Finding the fuel money, which exceeds $300 weekly, is something the team cannot afford and now they are seeking donations for a bus.

"The team's passion for footy keeps them fit, healthy and their mental health strong," the club said.

"The young men in this team train hard weekly and like to keep healthy and promote footy in the community as a way to help the younger generation to stay out of trouble, as living remote there is not many positive activities for youth in this part of outback Australia to participate in."

With the deaths in custody issue raising its ugly head again, here is a practical way to keep young Indigenous men healthy.

The Young Guns are desperately crying out for some government support in what is as far from a sports rort as could be imagined.

The AFL too should consider getting behind one of its most remote outposts.

If you want to help out, you can access the Young Guns' GoFundMe page here.

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