RAW: SALA – Yiloga – Tiwi Footy – Peter Eve & Monica Napper – Tandanya

Dressing Room - Peter Eve - 2005

With football finals now kicking off in various leagues around the state, the arrival of Yiloga – Tiwi Footy by Peter Eve and Monica Napper could not be better timed.

The role of football of all codes to the spirit and soul of this country, albeit tribe by tribe depending on their form, cannot be underestimated or much avoided. This exhibition gives us a chance to not only observe what it means to the Tiwi islanders but also compare and contrast their commitment to it with that in more southern climes.

This photo essay of about 40 images focuses on the annual Grand Final and follows the team and supporters as they head off on the morning of the game and finishes as they return home at dusk by barge.

Given over the centuries the Tiwi fiercely resisted all comers, it is extraordinary the way the Australian national game has been more than embraced but adopted as a part of the islanders’ culture.

Holy Grail - Monica Napper - 2007

The images are mostly in colour though the black and white ones are the better. While southerners may worship the jersey, one senses the Tiwi see the game more as a means to celebrate the ceremony of bringing their people together including their links with the past.

A few images stand out including Listening to the Coach, an image of Fabian Kantilla (a surname held in some regard in this town) and Cyprian Ullungurra, both veterans of the league sitting shoulder to shoulder and Explosive Entry, Pumaralli team members bursting through the supporters’ banner in a celebration for all as streamers and socks and spectators seem to go everywhere. There are also some wonderful scenes around the goals where supporters lap the boundary line as the men play out their heroics a few metres away. Some of the best of these are not displayed but rather are in the full catalogue book.

The signs of respect to opponents, as exhibited in Good Luck also send a message that would be usefully adopted at all levels of the game and help to remind us that it is just that, a game, and not a forum for unfettered abuse and violence against others.

With both our local AFL sides going so poorly, a visit to Tandanya to see Yiloga – Tiwi Footy would, for those fans, serve as both a useful diversion and a reminder of the joys of just being a part of it all. For sports and event photographers it is a must.

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