A friendly game that’s breaking down barriers

IT’S a touch football match that’s more than just a game.

Organisers say it’s the medium that could sweep away differences between the Aboriginal community and police.

Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation and Wodonga police started playing matches last year and, with the second to be played tomorrow, organisers say it has already made a difference.

Mungabareena justice worker Joy Kelly said the first match had attracted 80 people with players from both sides bringing their families to watch.

“It was really good. After the match, they all sat down and had tea together,” Ms Kelly said.

“It gave police a chance to sit down and talk to the families.”

She said police stations carried connotations of fear for some in the Aboriginal community.

“They believed a police station was never ‘a good place to go’ and incidents were often not reported.

She hoped that through sport, this could change.

“To build those relationships and give them familiar faces (in the police),” she said.

Aboriginal liaison officer Sergeant Andrew Wilson said the concept worked for police, too, giving them a chance to talk to the community in a positive situation.

“It’s about building trust and breaking down the barriers,” Sgt Wilson said.

The match kicks off at 5.30pm at Willow Park in Wodonga with dinner to follow.

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