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Perth Football Club kicking goals at the Karijini Experience

Brendan Foster -

Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation director Ben Jeakings said he knew it was time to inject more First Nations traditional culture into the Karijini Experience after seeing Frisbee golf was one of the events at a previous festival.

Western Australia's premier Aboriginal cultural festival, which is a celebration of culture, food, music and art will be held on the traditional lands of the Banjima people from July 5, after a COVID-affected three-year absence.

The Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC) are taking over the reins of the five-day festival from the Nintirri Centre in Tom Price.

Mr Jeakings – a proud Banjima man - said BNTAC wanted to promote the cultural aspects of the Banjima people and engage with the Karijini Traditional Owners when mapping out the festival.

"We held consultations with our elders and the consultation was important because our elders have really been the ones that have driven the Karijini Experience, so it was important to listen and we think it's going to be a beautiful Banjima cultural experience," he said.

"In previous years they were offering Frisbee golf and I didn't understand how that linked in to being an immersive cultural experience.

"This year we understood the importance of the event after it had been cancelled because of Covid and we didn't want it to lose the reputation it already had."

Mr Jeakings, who is also the Community Liaison Officer with the Perth Football Club, will be hosting an educational and interactive footy workshop with Demons' WAFL players Oscar Bird, James Ewing and Jared Bell at the Village, Karijini Airstrip on July 6 and July 8.

He said while the footy program would teach the kids the finer skills of the game, it was also about teaching them about discipline and community.

"The idea is to give them a sense of belonging in a football purpose and let them see players as role models and our kids need to keep engaged in school and education and extra curriculum activities outside of school as they are the key to future success," he said.

"Being part of a team, understanding punctuality with going to training and the hard work that takes place in sport as well.

"If we can install that discipline through sport then we can install that in our everyday self-discipline, with going to school and making our kids more motivated."

Mr Jeakings, who was the youngest person ever elected to the BNTAC board at 22, said not a lot of the sporting clubs in the Pilbara aimed their programs at Traditional Owner kids.

The 25-year-old said if there were greater participation from local sporting clubs and recreation centres, there would be better outcomes for First Nations children.

"That's where the Perth Football Club comes in because a lot of our kids now will be attending boarding school in Perth and there are opportunities to start building and fostering relationships for those boarders so that have that foundation and they can recognise whether that be a football player or even the Perth Football Club Oval.

"Just something they can have that immediate relationship with."

Mr Jeakings hopes one day several First Nations kids from the Pilbara will be donning Demons' jumpers in the future.

"That would be amazing and that would be the ultimate goal to have Traditional Owners kids from the Pilbara playing for Perth," he said.

"We could have a whole team of Traditional Owner kids."

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