REBECCA’S GDO POSTCARD FROM THE EDGE…

first_imgIn the second installment of our behind the scenes look at the life and times of the Nation’s Game Development Officers, the Northern Territory’s Rebecca Houston delivers her “Postcard from the Edge” from Australia’s Top End.Last month Queensland’s North Queensland GDO Glenn ‘Richo’ Richardson was featured, this month, Rebecca ‘Chewbeckker’ Houston gives us a sneak peak of her life as a GDO in “The Territory”.Rebecca Houston is promoting Touch Football in some of Australia’s most remote communities, and loving it. The 27-year-old has been in the Game Development Officer role for a little over a year, having moved to Darwin from South-East Queensland when her boyfriend Luke joined the Northern Territory Police Force. Even though she is still relatively new to her job, Houston has an accomplished background in Touch Football.Houston played with Crushers in the Women’s Open SEQTL from 1999-2005, and the Gold Coast Sharks in the National Touch League from 1998-2005. She won an NTL Open Mixed title with ‘Sharkies’ in 2001, and in 2004 she represented the Queensland State of Origin Mixed Open team. Renowned as one of the best ‘finishers’ in the business, the speedster has played a pivotal role in the Barbarians Women’s Open Team’s surge into the semi-finals at the National Touch League for the last two years and continues to prove her mettle under the pressure at the Elite level.The bubbly and dedicated Redlands girl has adjusted well to life as a GDO.Initially moving away from her close knit family and the bright lights of Brisbane was a big adjustment, but the positive and enthusiastic extrovert jumped at the chance to make a career out of the game she has played since she was a teenager in the local Redlands competition.Rebecca has made friends easily and impressed all those around her with her eagerness to work, and willingness to embrace the people and lifestyle in the Territory.Northern Territory Branch Manager Isobel Appo is one person who has keenly observed Rebecca’s progress and is full of praise for the GDO.“Rebecca has done very well. Her AusTouch programs and Junior initiatives have gone over well in the Territory. She has a great rapport with the kids, and her hard work, sense of humour, and genuine desire to help people shines through. She has earned a lot of respect and acceptance in the communities in which she works,” Mrs. Appo said.Rebecca is doing a great job passing on the skills she has honed over her years at the top level to kids in communities that have often never even heard of any kind of football other than AFL. Rebecca recently visited Kalkarindji, Yarralin and Timber Creek in the Katherine Region to run Austouch clinics for 60 children over three days. “By visiting the communities, you get a lot of satisfaction from going out there and teaching them a sport that they’ve never really seen before. Most of the time out in the communities they’ve only seen AFL, so they play AFL. They’ve seen a little bit of Rugby League on the television and that’s about it. So your biggest battle is getting them to pass the ball backwards. Once you get them passing the ball backwards they start to understand what they’re doing and they start to get really excited, it’s a good feeling,” Houston said. Rebecca enjoys the travelling that is part of her Game Development Officer duties. She said she is always welcomed into any community that she visits and appreciates the laid back lifestyle on offer in the Territory. “Everyone loves playing sport, it doesn’t matter what sport it is, people get into it. The kids are always smiling and make you feel so welcome. There is so much natural athleticism and skill as well in the Indigenous communities, and of course it’s very rewarding to give people opportunities that they might not otherwise get in the remote localities,” Houston said.Having covered several communities across the Top End, Houston said she has noticed something about the kids from rural communities compared to the Darwin-based children. “They’re a lot less cheeky!” Houston said with a smile. In June Houston will be travelling to isolated communities in remote Arnhem Land. “I’ve been up to Gove before, but I haven’t been to see their community sport teams so that’ll be good.” Houston said.Houston is dedicated to getting more children involved in Touch Football. Without her work developing Touch Football at the grassroots level the game in the Northern Territory would be struggling for a base. A junior competition that has been established in Darwin is evidence of her work.“We originally had four teams and this year we’ve got eight teams, from under-13s to under-16s. Next year we hope to grow it again so it’s definitely getting bigger. The main thing I want to do is just keep growing it for the children and getting them involved. If we don’t get the kids involved then our sport doesn’t grow and we cease to exist.” Rebecca said.By the end of this year Houston is planning to have a junior competition established in the Katherine region. Her Austouch clinics will hopefully have planted the Touch Football seed in some of tomorrow’s stars. But Houston knows that the kids can only develop their Touch Football skills if competitions are set up for them.“I’m going down to Katherine in August. They are starting a school competition, so hopefully they can get a little bit more interest there for their club so that they can start a junior competition themselves. It would be very rewarding. It is good to say that you’ve started something outside of Darwin, it means that you’re not just focusing on one area and that’s a good outcome for the sport.” Houston said.The Northern Territory is going ahead in leaps and bounds, with the formation of several junior competitions, AusTouch programs, and next month’s NT Junior Development Camp set to further consolidate the Top End’s position as a leading light for junior development in Touch Football in this Country.With the rapid growth of the sport in junior ranks in the Territory, Rebecca Houston is sure to have her hands full for some time to come.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *