V Swans 2018 S2S Alice Springs Tour

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 12:36 PM

Swan Districts recognises and respects the value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples bring to our business and our wider community.

Our club has a sanctioned Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with Reconciliation Australia and engage our employees and players in cultural learning to increase our knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, traditions and connection to the land. One of the ways in which the club does this is through the V Swans annual cultural and leadership tour. Held in September last year, the V Swans 2018 Alice Springs S2S Tour was the fourth cultural awareness and leadership tour organised by Swan Districts.

Strength to Succeed (S2S) is a high-performance, youth development program facilitated by V Swans, SDFC’s education and community development division. S2S provides youths aged 12 to 17 years the opportunity to participate in a specialist sports education program that prioritises health and fitness; promotes pride, belonging and wellbeing both in oneself and the wider community; personal development and the acquisition of life skills; as well as provides an elite pathway for young athletes to embark upon professional sporting careers.

Last Spring’s S2S trip featured cultural tours conducted by Anangu, local central Australian Aboriginal traditional owners; educational components in leadership, cultural awareness and decision-making; access to high performance coaches including the current AFLW Fremantle Captain, Kara Donnellan, coach and former Swans Districts’ league team captain and Sandover Medal winner, Shane Beros; as well as a once in a life time opportunity to play football against Central Australian Pinktails in memorable locations across the Northern Territory.

Below is a review of the S2S tour, written by V Swans trainee, Swans Districts’ women’s league player and tour participant, Rikki Ryan.



Recently, we (18 girls, 9 from across the Pilbara and the rest from Perth) and V Swans staff/coaches - Kara, Shane, Paul, Adam and Fiona, a veteran Women’s league player - flew out of Perth to Alice Springs to tour around the beautiful central area of Australia including Simpsons Gap, Uluru, Kata-Tjuta, and King Creek Station. This was the S2S leadership and cultural tour. We played some footy games and learned a lot about the Anangu (pronounced arn-ung-oo) the local Aboriginal culture and history and had the best time.

Day One

For the first couple of nights we stayed at the Swagmen’s Rest Apartments in Alice Springs.  We went for walk around Alice Springs and played an ice breaker game that helped all the girls get to know each other. That afternoon we went down to the shops to get healthy snacks for our travel to Kata – Tjuta and Uluru (diet is an important learning component of the S2S program). After we left the store, we returned to our apartment to get ready for the night ahead. Following some time to ourselves, we headed for the Todd Mall markets for dinner and to have a look around. After a few hours we returned to our apartment and enjoyed free time until lights out at 9pm.   

Day Two

Everyone was up at 7am for breakfast and to travel to Simpsons Gap for our jumper presentation. Individual and group photos were taken before we listened to Shane Beros explain the trademark – respect and responsibility - of the Strength 2 Succeed core values. After the presentation we headed back to Alice to prepare for our training session. We needed to pack our backpacks and ensure that if strapping was needed, it was done prior to jumping on the bus. 

After a few hours of training, we departed the venue and returned back to the apartment where we all did recovery in the pool as a team and got through that together.

We all prepared our own lunches with the food provided by the staff and then got ready for that afternoon’s game against the Central Pinktails (Central Australian Alice Springs Female Representative Team). Match preparation included strapping, hydration, massage, stretching and more. Everything that was needed to be done before the game.

The game started at 4.00pm against the Central Pinktails. We lost but that was okay. It was a good game and everyone enjoyed it a lot. After the game ended, we changed and got back on the bus to head back to the apartment for a team meeting that outlined what was ahead for the next three days of camping.

In the evening, there was a cultural talk on the special places we would be visiting including Uluru and Kata Tjuta and the importance that they play in Anangu history and culture. We organised our luggage and packed the travel items needed for the next three days. Lights out was at 9:30pm that night as we needed to get a good sleep, our last in a bed for a while.

Day Three

In the morning, we packed up and left for our three days of camping. We broke up the travel with a stop at the Erldunda roadhouse for lunch and a toilet break and then returned to the bus to head to King Creek Station to set up camp. We had the opportunity to participate in leisure activities at our own cost such as quad bikes riding before walking to the Kings Canyon viewing area to watch the sun go down. Dinner was at the campfire. We sat around the fire and talked and bonded even more over campfire games and activities. Some girls went to bed early that night after the long day of travelling but everyone was instructed to be in bed by 9pm that night due to the early start scheduled the next day. (The importance of adequate rest for athletes is also imparted to participants of the S2S program).

Day Four

The next day we were up early to head towards Karkke Tour place. We were taught a lot about Anangu  culture, which I thought was really interesting. We also learnt about bush tucker (witchetty grubs were on the menu), the tools they used such the boomerang, and their art. After the tour we headed towards our next destination, Uluru (a massive sandstone monolith that is sacred to Indigenous Australians and our country’s most recognizable and distinct natural landmark). We spent 3-4 hours on the bus before stopping for lunch at a little roadhouse and a bit of fun against the coaches which we won. After a further hour and a bit of bus travel, we arrived at Ayers Rock campground and set up camp for the next couple of days. We settled down, relaxed and spent time on our reflection journals before getting back on the bus to journey to the viewpoint to watch the sun set over Uluru. We returned back to help with dinner at the camp ground. Lights out were at 9:00pm. We technically didn’t have lights but had a moon that was just as bright.

Day Five

The next day we were up early to view the sunrise at Uluru. After that, we headed back to the campground for breakfast and prepared to return to Uluru for a tour around the rock. We were guided by the National Park Ranger who shared his knowledge of the region, the culture, rock art and management before returning to the camp for some time to ourselves, which we spent swimming as a group. That night we headed out to watch the sunset go down over Kata Tjuka and then headed back to the campground to cook dinner with the staff. Free time was scheduled after dinner with lights out at 9pm for an early wakeup call the next day.

Day Six

The next morning, we were up early to pack our stuff, the bus and the Troopy! We left the campground and headed back towards Alice Springs by bus where all the girls and some of the staff slept all the way until the Erldunda Roadhouse lunch and toilet break. During the remaining two-and-a-half-hour journey back to Alice, half continued sleeping and the other half of the group stayed awake and talked with one another. When we got back that afternoon, we were divided into groups with half of us instructed to shop for the MasterChef cook off whilst the other half did recovery in the pool. When the group returned and started preparation of the meals, the rest of the girls did recovery in the pool. The first group made sweet potato chips. I must say they weren’t the best but there is always room for improvement. The second group made chicken pasta bake that was a lot better than the first and last but not least the third group made a bread and butter pudding, which was alright. We judged the meals and although there could only be one winner - we were all winners that night because we got to have the chicken pasta bake and bread and butter pudding in first place.

Day Seven

On Wednesday morning, we went shopping for a bit before going back to the hotel to get ready for a clinic at Centralian Middle School. We all interacted with the schoolgirls. It was fun to get to know them a little better. We ran some football drills with them which I and everyone else enjoyed! That afternoon we played our last game against the Central Pinktails. It was enjoyable to play alongside those girls because it may never happen again and definitely something to remember, that’s for sure.

Day Eight

On Thursday morning, we awoke, packed our bags and cleaned the rooms. The youngest girl on our trip was turning 12 so we all sang happy birthday to her before boarding the bus to head toward the airport. Once we arrived, we checked everything in and waited to board the plane. We landed in Perth around 1:15 – 1:20 in the afternoon, all the Perth girls said goodbye to the Pilbara girls and then left the airport after getting all their bags and swags. The Newman and Port Hedland girls waited for their 3pm connecting flight and returned home safely. The Onslow girls stayed the night in Perth and flew out the next day to return home.

I must say the overall the trip was one to remember and one I would do it all over again. A big thank you to V Swans staff for the amazing set up and support on behalf of all the girls on the trip. Until Next time!