Clontarf Academy v Wagga police in football match

Wagga police will dust off their footy boots on Tuesday as they gear up for a game of good will. 

Kicking goals: Rhys Weldon, 16, Maleke Morris, 16, James Morgan, 16 and Darnell Dates, 15, will brace the cold on Tuesday as they challenge Wagga police to an early morning footy game.

Kicking goals: Rhys Weldon, 16, Maleke Morris, 16, James Morgan, 16 and Darnell Dates, 15, will brace the cold on Tuesday as they challenge Wagga police to an early morning footy game.

A group of more than 30 high school boys will charge officers on the field in a special AFL match from 7am.

The boys are part of the Clontarf Foundation Academy, operating out of Mount Austin High School. The three-year initiative helps young indigenous students to aim high, building leadership skills, self-esteem and overall well-being.

Director Jermaine Packer said games against community groups like police usually happened every term.

“It’s good fun,” Mr Packer said. “Last time we had massive numbers.”

Mr Packer said players would brace the brisk weather and branch out beyond their comfort zones. 

“It helps the boys get to know people and get away from being that shy, young fellow,” he said. “It sends a certain buzz around when we have special guests come into the academy.”

Police were also invited to join the young team for breakfast after the game. 

“It changes perceptions,” Mr Packer said. “It’s building strong relationships where in the past, there haven’t been.”

Wagga police inspector Robert Vergano said there was no better way to build ties within the community. 

“It’s something they enjoy and we enjoy,” Inspector Vergano said. “(It shows) we’re all human and enjoy the same things they do.”

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