The 2020 AFL Premiership Cup Tour kicked off its journey in the Far North yesterday with one of the game’s most decorated players presenting the trophy to Indigenous kids from rural and remote Queensland.
Ex-Brisbane Lions great, three-time premiership player and Brownlow Medalist, Simon Black, took the cup to AFL Cape York House in Cairns, where Indigenous kids from various remote communities board and participate in a football and education program.
“To be able to bring the cup to Cape York House like this and give the young people the opportunity to see what the ultimate in our game looks like, to let them touch it and feel it to get a sense that its something real and it’s something that not beyond them...is a tremendous honour,” Mr Black told NITV News.
“I’ve heard about this program a lot and the great work that Rick Hanlon [program director] has done up here for a number of years, developing these young kids.
“For Indigenous children to come from rural or remote communities, to come here and experience the fantastic education and the ability to develop themselves, I can’t understate how impressive it is.”
AFL Cape York House mentors young male and female teenagers from remote or rural communities in Far North Queensland, assisting them to pursue educational or sporting opportunities.
Fifteen-year-old Rusia Bann from Thursday Island said he was happy the cup came to Far North Queensland because more kids in Cape York needed to be exposed to AFL.
“It's good because it's mainly in Melbourne and Victoria, and they mostly get to see it a lot, so for us up here to get a chance is good,” Rusia told NITV News.
Rusia, who has been playing Australian Rules Football for three-years, said the Cape York House program had not only helped him improve his skill with the ball, but helped with his education as well.
“I board here and I go to school at St Mary’s Catholic College, like some of the others here from Torres Strait, Cape York, some from NT, and Groote Island.
“We all come here after holidays for 10-weeks and then go back to home, and just come here for schooling, have fun and play AFL,” he said.
Director of AFL Cape York House, Rick Hanlon, who’s a long-time friend of Simon Black, told NITV News that football was a “vehicle” for many of the kids who come through the program.
“Football is a wonderful vehicle, it's a wonderful tool to get people together,” said
“We operate remotely within the AFL Cape York program, taking footy to the kids in the remote communities and setting up programs for them and competitions and representative opportunities.
“This is just a great opportunity for the young people to do something that traditionally, they wouldn’t get the opportunity to do
“To actually put your hands on the premiership cup, to have your photo taken with it, will be a life experience [for these kids].
‘It’s something that will probably never be replicated for the young people this far up north and it's something that they can rest their hat on for a little bit as well and stick their chest out and feel a part of the whole process.
As the official Premiership Cup Ambassador for 2020, Mr Black will travel with the cup from Cairns to Brisbane via a road trip before hand delivering it to the Gabba at the AFL Grand Final on October 24.