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To celebrate the recently established, exciting three-year partnership between Tennis NT and Wanta, Tennis NT legends, Beth (Inclusion and Diversity Manager) and Anzac (Indigenous Program Lead), Sharon (Australia Tennis Foundation manager), and their film crew were accompanied by Wanta’s Central Desert Regional Manager, Tenille Rickard, for a whirlwind tour of our Central Desert Wanta programs. During week 7 of term 3, the group travelled to Alparra, Yuendumu, Papunya, and Ntaria to provide tennis clinics to the communities, teaching the kids basic skills before advancing into rallies and even competitions! Tennis NT were incredibly kind to donate LOTS of tennis equipment to each community too to allow the kids to continue to engage in tennis after their departure – two troopies packed to the brim saw each community receiving nets, balls, tennis rackets, line markers, and Australian Open gear to kit the kids out from head to toe!

To round off the busy week and give the crew a unique experience, the Tennis NT team, Tash and Ellie with eight Ntaria kids, and Zac with four kids all the way from Alparra headed out to Rodna to camp on the Friday night. Rodna is one of the Ntaria local employees, Benji’s, country so we were lucky to have him accompany and share his land with us as a Traditional Owner. We spent the night under the stars cooking and eating burgers, getting to know each other better, and sharing stories. The Tennis NT staff were really impressed with the Ntaria girls’ food preparation and cooking skills, reflecting the skills and knowledge they have gained through the nutrition cooking program in Wanta’s Young Women’s Room! Roaring fires kept us warm as we fell asleep under the milky way and we woke to a beautiful sunrise early the next morning. Bacon and egg sandwiches got everyone up and about and we soon packed up and commenced the four-wheel drive back to Ntaria.

Saturday saw additional groups from Areyonga, Titjikala, and Mutitjulu organised by MacYouth arrive in Ntaria for a few fun filled hours of tennis. The kids learned about the work of Tennis NT and the Australian Tennis Foundation, as well as what opportunities the Tennis NT partnership with Wanta will bring them, before working on their forehand and backhand shots and learning how to score a game. Additional kids from Ntaria floated in across the morning as they heard about the fun being had at the basketball court and, after a break for morning tea, the 50 participants were consolidated into teams which then took part in an elimination tournament ran by Beth and Anzac. As the event came to a close, Wanta cooked up a sausage sizzle for everyone using the new BBQ trailer, and the results and Australian Open tennis gear was distributed amongst all the participants.

Thank you to Mac Youth for their support in making this event happen, from facility provision and on the day support to providing teams from other communities. And also, to the Tennis NT crew for their huge efforts in visiting all our Wanta communities and sharing their knowledge with the kids – we can’t wait to work with you even more in the coming years!

Written by Ellie Simmons, Director Ntaria SCFC.