Team Lifeline are taking a stand against suicide as they compete in the NAIDOC Football and Netball Carnival in Ballarat.
The local team is one of 60 from across the state who will compete in the statewide indigenous sports carnival on October 14 and 15.
More than 1500 competitors and 2500 spectators are expected to flock to competition sites around Mars Stadium and the North Ballarat sports precinct.
Team Lifeline is taking a personal stand to raise awareness of indigenous suicide, with every member of its C-grade team having lost a cousin, brother, father, uncle or son to suicide.
“This carnival is huge and we’ve decided to represent Lifeline and put the word out there in the Aboriginal community that it’s not a stigma any more and get people talking about it before it’s too late,” said spokeswoman Rachel Muir.
Team Lifeline’s approach fits well with the carnival’s total holistic health approach and its motto Yannanayowoit Dullallally, or always proud.
Event organiser Kate Davis said the annual football and netball carnival was the most significant event on the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander calendar and was an important platform for promoting a holistic approach to health and wellbeing among indigenous Victorians.
As a result, the carnival is a soft drink, smoking, alcohol and drug free event.
“We are taking soft drinks out because it’s a family event and we are really trying to educate young families about sugar free. We are quite proud to be the first carnival that is soft drink, alcohol, smoke and drug free,” Ms Davis said.
“This is an opportunity to really engage with the Aboriginal community and get the message across.”
And it’s not just about sport, with entertainment and culture also part of the program.
The carnival will also include activities for families and children including Indigenous hip hop, live entertainment on the stage, football themed inflatables, face painting, local artists and more.
“This carnival will bring together all of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities from across Victoria, to strengthen and renew relationships,” Ms Davis said.
The carnival begins Friday night with women’s football and an all-star netball game before competitions start on Saturday.
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