Australia

Wilcannia soccer kids ‘so excited’ to return to Broken Hill after COVID-19 worries

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The Wilcannia children’s soccer team returned to Broken Hill this weekend after two weeks off for fear of the risk of COVID-19.

The team was withdrawn from the Broken Hill soccer competition due to concerns they might catch the coronavirus and put Wilcannia — a small town two hours east of Broken Hill with a mostly Aboriginal population — at risk.

There have been no COVID-19 cases in Broken Hill since January, but community members were worried by the growing outbreak in Greater Sydney.

After two weeks off, the Wilcannia under 10s team, several under 12s players, parents, and community members made the 400-kilometre there-and-back pilgrimage for the competition on Sunday.

Barkandji elder Ann Currie, known as Aunty Dodie, said the kids were extremely excited to return to the field.

 “The kids were very happy to be back … they were all excited. They’ve been asking for the last couple of weeks when we were coming back,” she said.

“So, they geared up on the bus and everything so they were raring to go when they got off that bus. They were so excited.”

A boy with his tongue out aims his boot at the soccer ball while another child with his hands on his head watches on.
Under 10s Wilcannia soccer players were back in Broken Hill over the weekend.(

ABC Broken Hill: Jonathon Poulson

)

Keeping an eye on COVID-19

Aunty Dodie said it was vital to make sure it was safe to bring them to the city before letting them play.

“I’m just watching and just listening and just taking one day at a time where this COVID was at,” she said.

“I’m glad I made that decision but we’re all excited that we’re back. These kids are just over the moon about it.”

She said she would not hesitate to keep the kids back in Wilcannia if there are any cases of COVID-19 in or near the far west.

“If this concern … comes close to Broken Hill again I will definitely pull them out again for their safety,” she said.

“I won’t put no kids or myself or anybody at risk.”

Currently, the closest New South Wales COVID-19 exposure site listed by the state government is at Wentworth Falls, more than 1,000 kilometres east of Broken Hill.  

two women in scrubs and PPE holding test tubes surrounded by cars
A COVID-19 testing clinic in Summer Hill, NSW. (

ABC News: Brendan Esposito

)

New South Wales recorded 283 new local covid cases and another death today as health officials announced a lockdown in the city of Tamworth in the state’s north-east.

Meanwhile, Aunty Dodie said, soccer was becoming an increasingly popular sport in Wilcannia, alongside the traditional favourites of rugby league and AFL.

“Everyone’s talking about these kids.”

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