A new sports program for Indigenous trainees in Central Australia is hitting a home run.
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World News Radio
19 Nov 2013 - 7:16 PM  UPDATED 20 Nov 2013 - 1:49 AM

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

A new sports program for Indigenous trainees in Central Australia is hitting a home run.

A softball tournament has been set up for young women training at the Voyager Uluru resort as a fun way of making cultural connections.

As Karen Ashford reports, it's an attempt to give young Aboriginal people from around Australia who've come to the Red Centre to learn job skills a taste of old traditions.

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(Sounds of softball playing and cheering)

The National Indigenous Training Academy's tri-state tournament aims to bring together young women from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia for a local passion - softball.

This is the tournament's second match, pitting the Yulara trainees against Mutitjulu, with Docker River in the next round.

Trainees like Alex Davison from New South Wales have come to Yulara to gain skills in areas such as hospitality, catering, housekeeping and more.

"A lot of new skills, like I'm not too good with public speaking but I'm okay with it now. I'm learning a lot more, about the local Indigenous people here, it's a lot different. Things I wouldn't have learned about at home."

Program staff know the locals love sport.

One of the training program's Indigenous mentors, Nancy Doolah, believes the softball tournament is a good way for locals to spend time with trainees, as a pathway to learn about remote communities .

"It's about bridging the relationship between the communities, yeah, so we're hoping to have it as a monthly thing, so this is the second time this year but we're hoping to have it next year as well, once a month."

The trainees come from all across Australia, some from Perth, but most from Eastern states cities like Cairns, Brisbane, and Sydney.

Some, like Tahlia Ahoy, are choosing to stay on at Yulara at the end of the course, due not just to job opportunities, but because of a sense of connection with a tradition they've known little about until now.

"Growing up in the city we didn't really do much. I'm from Newcastle, so we didn't really do much, learn much culture in there, like going through school, but coming out here you're like living amongst it and it's just good, learning it."

Nancy Doolah says the program is having dual benefits - city girls are learning culture, and the often shy remote girls are gaining confidence through meeting new people.

"It's about sharing cultures too, yeah, Getting to know remote area people as well, young women, kungas, yeah, so it's pretty much as friendship friendly game and it's about bridging relationships, yeah."

For the record, the locals prevailed: Mutitjulu 9 runs, to the trainees 1.