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first_imgThe 13th Annual First Contact Sports and Cultural Festival played at the Brisbane Metropolitan Touch Association’s Whites Hill Sporting Complex on 25-26 November 2006 was a resounding success with a record number of teams competing underneath the sweltering Queensland sun.The First Contact Festival draws 10,000 people annually and features fast and furious on field action, sprint races, and unique non-stop entertainment on the main stage featuring performers and singing and dancing troupes from various cultures. There is a real family atmosphere for the tournament with free rides for kids, and food and market stalls offering modern and traditional fare and arts and crafts from different cultural backgrounds.Over 102 teams competed for $ 30,000 in prize money and trophies in this unique cross-cultural event in Men’s Open, Mixed Open, and Schools divisions.The fourth annual “Battle of the States” between New South Wales and Queensland Indigenous Teams was also contested across the three competing sections.To cap off a feast of high quality representative Touch Football, the Inaugural “Challenge of the Nations” featured a New Zealand Maori selection up against the Papua New Guinea Birds of Paradise, and the 2007 FIT World Cup Australian Open Mixed Team taking on the First Contact Invitational Australian Indigenous Mixed Team. The International games were prefaced by emotional renditions of National Anthems and traditional dances that created a wonderful atmosphere for participants and crowds alike.The “Challenge of the Nations” game featured a white hot New Zealand team led by Drummayne Dayberg-Muir and 2007 New Zealand World Cup representatives Troy Skinner and Rachel Stevenson who defeated a game PNG side 11-3.The highlight for many spectators was the lunchtime history-making clash between the First Contact Australian Open Mixed Indigenous selection and the current Federation of International Touch (FIT) Mixed Open World Champions, Australia.Department of Human Services (DHS) Ambassador for Indigenous Servicing, and Rugby League “Immortal” Arthur Beetson (OAM), was on hand to present the playing strip to the Invitational Indigenous Australian Mixed Team that included 2007 World Cup Open Australian Representatives Bo De La Cruz, Phil Gyemore, and Peter Stoddart, as well as 2005 Youth World Cup players Ricky Morris and Katie Shaw.The First Contact Indigenous Aussie team began brilliantly and scored first for a 1- 0 lead, but the Australian Mixed team, who were involved in an arduous 3 day training camp in the South East Queensland corner over the weekend in preparation for the 2007 World Cup, was stung into action and settled to find their rhythm to complete a 5 – 1 victory at full-time.Australian Mixed Open Co-Captain Tony Eltakchi produced a dominant performance and was well supported by Amy Fong, and Ben Mc Cullen in a solid team effort from the World Champions.In the Battle of the States Queensland claimed the 2006 title with victory over New South Wales in two out of three divisions.Queensland defeated New South Wales in Schools 8-5, and in the Mixed Open 5-3, but the Blues salvaged some pride with a thrilling 5-4 victory over their traditional Interstate rivals in the Men’s Open battle.In the main section of the tournament, Kempsey won the Schools section with a 5 – 2 defeat of Woodenbon Central, with Kempsy’s Kieran Vale (Male) and Megan Archibald (Female) winning the Player of the Final awards.In the Mixed Open Division Koori Kama 1 prevailed over Freeze ‘N’ Hot 5 – 2, with the talented Shaw family scooping the Player of the Final Awards.Luke Shaw (Male) and daughter Katie (Female) capped a memorable weekend for the family with their awards adding to the First Contact Indigenous Australian Invitational Team selection and Battle of the States selection for Queensland for the three sisters – Katie, Missy, and Jess.In the premier Men’s Open Division Galaxy Touch, led by player of the Final Chris Lukins had a resounding 7 – 3 win over Hoops ‘N’ Health.Teams, referees, and spectators traveled from far and wide to be a part of the 2006 tournament and the First Contact crew and the Brisbane Metropolitan Touch Association worked tirelessly to produce a fantastic experience for all participants.In 2007 Touch Football Australia and Queensland Touch will assist First Contact with additional tournament support and assistance to consolidate the Festival as a nationally recognized calendar event.First Contact ChairPerson Robbie Williams,who has been the driving force behind the tournament since its inception in 1994, is extremely proud of the event and looks to the future with optimism.“It’s a great event – it brings all cultures together in a 100% drug and alcohol free environment. It is a true community festival, where pride in your people and heritage is expressed. It showcases sporting ability and many Indigenous artists. It is exciting that we have now reached a standard where this tournament is considered worthy of major event status.” Mr. Williams said.Queensland Touch Branch Manager Jeremy Sorensen is equally pleased with the strengthening of ties between First Contact and the State and National affiliated bodies. “There are on-going discussions and plans to strengthen our involvement to help the tournament in technical areas such as refereeing, coaching, and selecting and to assist with the promotion of participation from affiliated teams from around the State.” Mr. Sorensen said.All the different ’mobs’ that traveled from far and wide have headed home happy to have caught up with the extended Indigenous family, and to have made new friends from across the cultural spectrum. The victors have their trophies and some extra money in their pockets for Christmas presents, but on a weekend such as this there are nothing but winners everywhere you look.last_img

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