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As part of the NRL Indigenous Round, ten students from the Brewarrina Clontarf Academy were rewarded for exceptional record attendance with a visit of a lifetime hosted by the Newcastle Knights.

The Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal men and by doing so equips them to participate meaningfully in society.

Since opening its first Academy for 25 boys in 2000 the Foundation has grown to cater for about 3,700 children in 70 schools across Western Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

The Foundation believes that failure to experience achievement when young, coupled with a position of under-privilege can lead to alienation, anger and more serious consequences. As a prelude to tackling these and other issues, participants are first provided with an opportunity to succeed and in turn raise their self-esteem.

The vehicle for achieving this outcome is Australian Rules and/or Rugby League. The Foundation uses the existing passion that Aboriginal boys have for football to attract them into school and keep them there.

The programmes are delivered through a network of football academies established in partnership with local schools. Any Aboriginal male enrolled at the school is eligible to participate in the Clontarf Academy.

To be eligible for the Knights experience, students had to attain 80 per cent attendance record. The group of ten drove 10 hours to watch the Knights host the Roosters, then spend time with the coach and players in the changerooms following the match.

One lucky member of the group was even given the match ball when in the sheds.

“This was for some of the fellas their first trip away from home and understandably a life memory,” Brewarrina’s Director Adam Close said.

“To see their heroes and for them to embrace our fellas was amazing.”

The visit wrapped up a special week for the Club celebrating Indigenous culture, including a Deadly Skills Expo the Knights hosted in conjunction with Hunter TAFE and the Aboriginal Learning Circle earlier in the week.

“This was a great experience for the Brewarrina students,” Knights Manager – Player/Coach Development Phil Matthews said.

“To be rewarded for their school attendance by visiting the Knights inner sanctum was a life changing moment. The value of linking sport, education and culture cannot be understated.”