Darwin NT, Australia, 28 October 2016 | Tennis Australia

Anglicare Victoria in partnership with Tennis Australia, Essendon Football Club and charity The Long Walk ran a leadership camp for 14 Indigenous Youth Academy members in Darwin, Northern Territory this week.

Tennis Australia’s National Indigenous Coach Ian Googalong accompanied three participants from Evonne Goolagong Foundation’s National Development Camp to the Top End to take part.

Fourteen-year-olds Trent Marlin (Camden, NSW), Adrian Foster (Kariong, NSW) and Tiarna Rowlatt (Wollongong, NSW), who also took part in Tennis Australia’s Indigenous Young Leaders Camp during Australia’s recent Davis Cup tie in Sydney, were in attendance.

Participants from Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative and Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative also attended the camp.

The camp saw participants visit Batchelor Area School to run a tennis clinic, as well as community engagement activities, cultural awareness sessions and dinners with key leaders. The group also visited Litchfield National Park while in Darwin.

Goolagong travelled alongside the camp aiming to instill a sense of empowerment and leadership within the group and the wider community.

“The program created by Anglicare Victoria in partnership with Tennis Australia, Essendon Football Club and The Long Walk is a fantastic way to develop the four values of culture, aspiration, education and leadership within the indigenous community,” Goolagong said.

“Ultimately we are aiming to empower and inspire participants to have the confidence to take ownership of their actions and positively impact their own community.

“Providing the opportunity to take these Youth Academy members to various communities is important to helping provide insight into the impact their leadership can have on the community, and how they can develop the values of indigenous culture further.”

Speaking further on the role tennis has played, Goolagong says he is grateful for the opportunities the sport has given him.

“Sport is integral to building healthy habits for kids and providing opportunities throughout their lives. Tennis in particular is a sport that can help develop kids’ physical and mental wellbeing.

“Tennis has provided me with continual opportunities throughout my life. I was able to finish high school, travel and play on a professional level.

“I want to make sure that in my role as National Indigenous Coach I can inspire kids to finish school, empower them to be leaders in their community and teach the importance of taking ownership of actions and decisions.”