Fifty-five Indigenous teenage boys from Western Sydney enjoyed a unique experience today as part of their visit to the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover at Sydney Olympic Park.
The school students watched competitors from six nations take part in the Women’s Midweight IP2 powerlifting competition as part of a long-term impact initiative with Indigenous youth organisation, Clontarf Foundation to promote the power of sport.
Joining them were Triple M breakfast host, Gotcha4Life founder and Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Ambassador Gus Worland, as well as Australian Invictus Games competitor Davin Bretherton.
Worland said he felt honoured to speak with the boys and hoped they felt inspired and empowered by the competitors.
“Sport can teach and give so much and offer a unique environment of camaraderie and inclusion,” Worland said.
“Participation in sport gives the competitors a sense of community and a place where they can find a new focus and find a new challenge. All these factors contribute to better mental health and wellbeing. It’s wonderful how sport and the Invictus Games can do that, not just for veterans and their families, but also for everyday Australians in their own communities.”
Bretherton, who won a silver medal in sailing on Sunday, credits sport for helping him to rebuild his life and restore his sense of self and purpose, after acquiring injuries while on deployment.
“Adaptive sports have given me a new lease on life. It has given me a reason to carry on,” Bretherton said.
“My family and my peers have never lost faith in me and sport, especially the Invictus Games, is a way for me to show them gratitude that I could never repay otherwise.
“The silver medal is great, but the ability to be able to compete with my brothers and sisters in arms is even better.
“Some of the stories coming out about the Invictus spirit, it really doesn’t matter where you’ve come from and all of that, it’s the camaraderie, and to be with your mates, and mates helping mates, it’s just awesome.”
The Clontarf Foundation uses sport as a vehicle to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment opportunities of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, and operates in 97 schools across five states and territories, catering for over 6,500 participants.
“I think it’s something they’ll be telling their kids about,” said Clontarf Foundation Operations Officer Troy Gordon.
“To host an event like this, it’s certainly something that our boys will take a lot from. They have been exposed to sports that they’ve probably never experienced before so I think it’s something that’s going to be talked about for a long time.
“These guys have obviously got some disabilities from their service and there’s no, ‘I can’t.’ We will take that back with us. Every competitor here is very positive and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
Also at Sydney Olympic Park today was the Sport Recruitment Institute (SRI) Lunch; an opportunity for influential leaders at state and national sporting bodies to embrace the ongoing Invictus Games legacy projects in sport participation and adaptive sport.
“The Invictus Games uses sport as a stepping stone in countries around the world to rehabilitate veterans,” said Invictus Games Foundation Chairman, Sir Keith Mills.
“There certainly is a powerful message of countries who were fighting against each other, now competing together. It is the power of sport to connect people together.”
This Friday, RSL NSW will be announcing a new initiative around their sporting initiatives at a grassroots level.
Invictus Games Sydney 2018