Team Larrakia emerged victorious in the Division One Darwin 9s tournament held at Rugby Park Marrara over the past weekend. In a resounding triumph, Team Larrakia secured a 10-2 grand final victory against Team Greece. The Darwin 9s event showcases Footy 9s, a distinctive variant of Australian rules football characterized by its nine-a-side format and rectangular field.
The success of this year's carnival, as Australian Football International CEO Brian Clarke noted, was commendable, with the event expanding from eight teams in 2022 to an impressive 12 teams in 2023. Team Larrakia, with a history of participation in the Darwin 9s over the past two years, forged a notable rivalry with Team Greece, emerging victorious in both grand finals.
Greece demonstrated an energetic start, securing two goals in the initial minutes. Nevertheless, the momentum shifted toward Team Larrakia, driven in part by Nick Yarran, a standout player from St Mary's with numerous NTFL premiership titles. Team Larrakia managed to seize a two-point lead by halftime. The second half showcased the prowess of former Geelong and Port Adelaide player Steven Motlop, who displayed exceptional skill, leading Team Larrakia to an eight-point victory.
Team Larrakia's triumph proved decisive despite Greece's earlier victory over them during the carnival. Notably, Steven Motlop's older brothers, Daniel and Shannon, contributed significantly, particularly in the ruck. Daniel, with a history of 130 games and 208 goals for North Melbourne and Port Adelaide, showcased his talent as a forward, while Shannon, a North Melbourne premiership player, left an indelible mark.
Local football talent played pivotal roles for Team Larrakia, with Northern Territory Football League representatives Mitchell Taylor and Bradley Stokes forming a formidable defensive duo. Aaron Stokes from Darwin Buffaloes also made a solid contribution. Ronald Fejo, who has been involved with Greater Western Sydney at VFL level this year, displayed impressive performance until sustaining a minor injury during the grand final.
Team Larrakia's engagement wasn't limited to the men's tournament; they also fielded a team in the Darwin 9s Women's Division. Described by Australian Football International as an innovative team sport inspired by Australian Football, Footy 9s aims to provide an accessible version of the game. Brian Clarke, CEO of Australian Football International, envisions a remarkable future for Footy 9s, aspiring to position it as a genuine international sport and even aiming for inclusion in the Olympic Games.
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Photo Courtesy National Indigenous Times
Courtesy National Indigenous Times