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Warlpiri warriors : Australian Rules Football in Central Australia
journal contributionposted on 2012-09-01, 00:00 authored by Bruce Hearn Mackinnon, L Campbell
Yuendumu, located in the Tanami desert of the Northern Territory, is home to the largest Warlpiri community in Australia. We examine the role of Australian Rules football in this remote Indigenous community. Football is seen to operate on many layers of Warlpiri culture, from the traditional game of ‘purlja’, the introduction of modern football in the 1950s, the growth of sports weekends, community football and the Alice Springs competition to the journey of Liam Jurrah, the first Warlpiri man to make the journey from being a desert footballer to emerging as an Australian Football League star. The importance of football in Yuendumu is revealed as a vehicle for social cohesion, group identity, pride and joy, and as an expression of manhood, enabling its young men to see themselves as modern-day Warlpiri warriors.