Carnival in league of its own
By HELEN JACK
SIXTY-FOUR Aboriginal rugby league teams from all over NSW will converge on Lismore in October to play in the 37th NSW Aboriginal Knock Out Rugby League Carnival vying for a total of $64,000 in prizes.
The decision by Lismore City Council to allow the carnival to take place was shrouded in controversy when at its meeting in March this year councillors initially ruled against the event but overturned the decision one hour later.
At a press conference yesterday at Lismore Workers Club, members of the carnival committee laid out its plans for a smooth-running event.
Committee president Philip Hall said he expected 64 teams to play during the event to take place on the October long weekend.
"We've got the Waterloo Storm coming to play as well as the Redfern All Blacks, La Perouse, South Taree, two teams from Kempsey, one from Walgett, Nambucca Heads, Wellington and Bourke," said Mr Hall.
"There are 16 women's teams as well as 13 local sides lining up to play as well."
The games will be held on Lismore's Oakes and Crozier ovals.
There will be tight security provided by a private company, Wrights.
Mr Hall went on to outline elaborate plans for ensuring the safe arrival of players and fans into Lismore, their accommodation and care whilst in the city.
"We have organised to have Aboriginal flags flying at revive stations along highways to encourage Aboriginal travellers to stop and rest during their journey and we have notified fuel stations along the way as well," he said.
"Accommodation across the Far North and Mid North Coasts is booked out."
Mr Hall said this year there were many changes to carnival rules including the way protests were adjudicated.
"This year a delegate from each team playing in the carnival will be elected to adjudicate on protests," he said.
"And there will be no memorial teams registered to play they will have to register from within their community. "We also plan to have a curfew of 6pm at the games and 11pm at venues in the town."
Another innovation includes an inaugural Aboriginal girl's beauty pageant.
"And in five years time we hope to hold a Tribe of Origin competition," said Mr Hall.