JUST weeks before Jy Farrar and Shane McAdam played an off-season game of football in a remote Northern Territory community, the same field they ran out on was being used as a "war ground".

Wadeye, an Indigenous community located six hours south-west of Darwin, had been gripped by tension in 2022, with dozens of houses destroyed as locals fought.

Supply of goods to the region had been cut off at times.

Through the suggestion of his mentor Shane Radbone, Farrar and first cousin McAdam made the trip in November to see if they could help.

"He (Radbone) thought it would be a good idea to help heal the surrounding area through footy," Farrar told AFL.com.au.

"We were all for it."

So, in November, Farrar, his brother, McAdam and Radbone made the trip to "help a community in dire need".

Wadeye local Jake Clark, the general manager of Kardu Diminin Corporation and manager of Murinbata Tribal Development, helped facilitate the visit after living through the community's hardships.

"We had COVID that affected the way people lived and they had to adapt to that, and then we had something that started as a small family dispute that led to a passing of someone in the community, that led to a massive outbreak, which was very hard to get on top of," Clark said.

"A lot of different trauma, and a lot of different pain for a lot of different people on different levels."

Farrar said locals told him the preceding months had been like a "war".

He (Radbone) thought it would be a good idea to help heal the surrounding area through footy."

- Jy Farrar

"When we were having little yarns, they'd point out the oval and say this is where we'd come to have wars," he said.

"They reckon they'd wake up early hours in the morning, meet up somewhere and battle it out.

"Extreme violence … weapons, crossbows, spears, rocks, anything they could get their hands on.

"Because they are so remote there was no law enforcement to help calm it down. They reckon they'd fight from as early as 6am all the way to 9-10pm, go to bed and get up and do it again.

"It was constant war between families, people that had disagreements."

Gold Coast's athletic defender and Adelaide's skilled small forward conducted a clinic on the day of their arrival in November and then played a game the following day.

They were greeted as heroes.

Because the town is so remote – it's two hours of driving on bitumen and four hours on dirt –seeing AFL players is exceptionally rare.

Just as significantly, one totem for local families in the town is a crow, and another is the sun, ensuring plenty of Adelaide and Gold Coast jumpers greeted the players.

"Aboriginal communities link and lock on to whatever their totem is," Farrar said.

"Could you imagine having a totem you're so passionate about and that same totem is on a sport you love?

"Footy is a way of reconnecting, a way of healing, but it's also just about having fun, that's why we do it. It's fun, that mateship and camaraderie that comes with it.

"It's the same here (Gold Coast) as it is in the middle of nowhere."


Clark said just the prospect of the players arriving was enough to ease the violence.

"It's the happiest I've seen Wadeye in seven or eight months," he said.

"We had boys mixing in that weren't (previously) talking. Where guys were kicking footballs, that was a battlefield. To see it being used as a football oval again, it's been sensational."

Farrar said three days in the community went down perfectly.

He and McAdam both felt safe the whole time, and the irony of playing on the local football field had not escaped him.

"It was good to see them come together on a place they called their war ground, the footy oval, to come and play footy," Farrar said.

"That's the beauty of football, it brings everyone together. You could pluck anyone and bring them together and play football.

"The best thing was just seeing how happy the kids were. I imagine they went through some tough times. Violence is trauma and for kids to see that kind of violence at a young age is heartbreaking.

"Just to see the smiles on their faces, and the teenagers and adults that participated in the footy game was just unreal.

"It's almost like euphoria. You get that feeling like you've impacted people's lives and a community."

Farrar said discussions were in place for a return visit.

"I think we left the town in a better place than when we got there. That's something I hold very close to me," he said.

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