Footy helps Shane kick bad habits

Shane Wongawol looks at an oval-shaped football and sees life certainty in a sporting vessel of otherwise unpredictable bounce.

No longer trapped by a cycle of substance abuse, the Warburton teen has found hope for a better life by joining the renowned Clontarf Aboriginal College. He will also take part this weekend in a unique football venture that has been uniting two contrasting WA cultures for six years.

He will travel to his father's desert home town of Wiluna to represent the Martu Eagles in the Murlpirrmarra Connection's cultural football carnival against juniors from the Dalkeith- Nedlands Football Club. And while the geographical divide between the clubs remains standard, the cultural gap is closing.

As the AFL celebrates its indigenous round, Shane, 16, will be celebrating his new opportunities in life away from the constant lure of antisocial evils.

"Life was just too hard, I don't know how to start . . . I had no opportunities," Shane said. "You got mates and all that, but they got no opportunities. You got nothing, so it's just hard. A lot of boys do drugs and all that and I tried to get away from it to change yourself. It's a good thing coming here (to Clontarf). It's just changed my life."

Murlpirrmarra Connection general manager Darren Patten, who assisted Shane's move to Clontarf, said the annual carnival used football to promote cultural respect and awareness.

"It's not just a game of footy - the parents and the kids walk away with an enormous amount of cultural knowledge," he said.

The West Australian

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