Air Force brings Olympians to Katherine


The RAAF Base Tindal sports complex in the Northern Territory came alive when the Air Force and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) collaborated to organise a sports day for Indigenous children and a community fun run.

The partnership also delivered community programs to remote outback schools in the Northern Territory to inspire the next generation of young people toward their goals.

During the event, Indigenous and non-Indigenous athletes shared their journeys with school students from Katherine and surrounding areas, aiming to motivate them to reach their personal best and perhaps to one day wear the green and gold or the Air Force uniform.

Olympians delivered the ‘Olympics Unleashed’ program where athletes provided face-to-face lessons to students about the benefits of goal setting, good decision-making, overcoming hardships and finding a passion in life.

Aviators and Olympians participated in sporting activities and shared their life experiences to encourage healthy lifestyles.

Nat Burton represented Australia in Basketball at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games and visited Mataranka School as part of the partnership.

Ms Burton shared her Olympic experience, where her team won against host country, Brazil, followed by wins against Turkey, France and Japan. In the quarter-final however, the Australians were eliminated.

“It was heartbreaking to lose by so little to a team we had recently beaten significantly, and you can see my heartbreak as I left the court. We all need to use a loss as an opportunity to learn – about ourselves as well as the game,” Ms Burton said.

“Across my career, I have been so lucky to have my family support me. My nan was waiting at the airport when I got home from Rio, and my mum and sisters travelled to watch, or watched online, whenever they could.

“I really love basketball, and finding that thing you love, and that is fun for you, is so important in building the resilience to cope with loss.”

Senior Indigenous liaison officer Squadron Leader Patricia Thompson spoke about the Air Force’s support for the program and the importance of Indigenous Australians for the Air Force.

“The partnership between the Air Force and the AOC enables us to build stronger, positive connections with Indigenous communities like Katherine, Mataranka and Kalkarindji,” Squadron Leader Thompson said.

“It doesn’t matter how we inspire our kids, it’s about reaching them at their level and on Country. As mentors, it’s important to support and encourage kids to be the best at what they aspire [to be] in life.”

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