The annual Bennelong Cup Touch Football Day and Corporate Luncheon was hosted last Friday at Randwick Army Barracks and Souths Juniors, with 16 teams and 260 guests participating in the day.
The Bennelong Cup was developed in 2018 as a way to promote physical activity and to link Aboriginal high school students with employment and apprenticeship opportunities being offered by corporate employers.
Each of the 16 teams competing in the touch football tournament were representing an influential Aboriginal warrior or community leader. The Souths Cares team were representing Pemulwuy who was an Aboriginal man of Eora descent, born around 1750 in Botany Bay.
The Souths Cares team was made up of students and staff from the Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) Program and the Liverpool Opportunity Hub. The students were the youngest participating team in the tournament and made a huge improvement upon last year, making the Semi Finals only to fall short to tournament champions the Muloobinba team.
William Last is a mentor in the Nanga Mai Marri (Dream Big) Program and was proud of the Pemulwuy team’s performance.
"Our team showed great resilience and determination to match it with the older and more experienced touch teams to achieve third place in the Bennelong Cup," said Last.
"Participating in the Bennelong Cup with our students is one of the highlights of the year."
The concept for the event was developed by Gaven Sheehan from Bennelong Energy Services who has worked tirelessly to grow the event from 60 participants in 2018 to over 260 participants in 2021.
Gaven explained an important outcome from the event was the education and employment opportunities which are secured for Aboriginal young people.
"This year, our expectation is to employ 40 students collectively from Souths Cares, NRL School to Work and the Clontarf Foundation," Sheehan said.
"Eight of our students at the Bennelong Cup were rewarded with scholarships including Souths Cares Brandon Houghton being rewarded with a scholarship for his start at UGL (United Group Limited).”
Following the touch football tournament, participants attended a luncheon at Souths Juniors which included Aboriginal dance performances, networking opportunities and Q&A panel discussions.
Souths Cares hopes to improve on their performance of third place, with eyes on the trophy for next year’s Bennelong Cup!