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Some people join teams for fitness, others join for fun and competition.
The Alau Eagles Rugby League team from Umagico, Cape York, is all of these things - and much more. It’s a brotherhood where men can grow, mature and ultimately fly.
The Alau team have celebrated a decade of unprecedented success, with the highest number of wins and cups in the Northern Peninsula area. “They have won premierships and they have won carnivals and they have won the Torres Strait Cup,” says the team’s captain, Peter Lui.
The success of the Alau Eagles is not limited to the field. The phrase: “It’s not what happens on the field that counts,” couldn’t be more true for this League team.
Lui is developing a mentoring program for young people in the community. Appropriately named the Alau Nest, the program aims to help the participants create their own futures through employment.
After successfully running a campaign that tackled drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence in the community, the need for a mentoring program that supported people into employment became clear.
“I think the biggest obstacle we have is taking these guys to the next step through our football club, and actually getting them employed and then into a trade or qualification in certain areas so that there is something for them to do after football,” Lui said.
When working with a group of people who have grown up only knowing Community Development Employment Programs (CDEP) that haven't led to meaningful ongoing employment, Lui is looking to change that trend.
He wants to give the team players a future with opportunities, and he is putting everything into his mentoring program to make that happen.
“At the end of the day, if you are thinking the CDEP is going to be a career for you, then you are mistaken. CDEP should be a pathway, not a destination.”
Lui is planning to help his men build a career. “We need to plan what is ahead for our boys, with employment and careers. That is what they want,” he said.
Bernard Charles is one Alau Eagle who has flown the nest. Like some of his team-mates, he has moved to Western Australia and taken up a mining career. Having come out of the CDEP program and welfare system, Lui’s players are now making exciting changes for themselves and their families.
Lui’s hopes for his team are simple: to have what many Australians dream of.
“My hope for these boys is that they achieve as much as they want to achieve in life, and there should be nothing in their way to stop them doing that. Whether it be on the sporting field, whether it be bush football or local football, state comp, NRL, employment, career, family – the Australian dream. That’s what it is – the Australian dream,” he said.