Bush kids travel to Mount Isa for annual sporting week

FITNESS: Jemma Curr, Lachlan Hawkins and Wally Hacon participate in basketball for the Sport for Bush Kids program. Photo: Samantha Walton.
FITNESS: Jemma Curr, Lachlan Hawkins and Wally Hacon participate in basketball for the Sport for Bush Kids program. Photo: Samantha Walton.

Families from remote parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory descended on Mount Isa this week for their annual sporting carnival.

Sport for Bush Kids started 19 years ago, as an initiative created by a group of mothers on remote stations who found the need to teach their children about water safety.

It began as a swimming awareness program and has evolved over the years into a week of intensive sports coaching run by Mount Isa School of the Air and Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA).

ICPA secretary, Jacki Bishop, said this year about 130 students were involved in the program.

“The program is run throughout the last week of the school year, and brings students together for a week of socialising and sporting activities,” Ms Bishop said.

“The program allowed students to have a better educational experience with other students who are geographically isolated throughout their school year

“Children will participate in swimming, gymnastics, netball, touch football, rugby union, tennis, basketball, cricket and soccer.

“We try to fit as much as possible into the week to give the kids a taste of each sport.”

Having the biggest geographical catchment in Australia, Mount Isa School of the Air families travelled eight hours or more to attend the program.

“The catchment goes from Richmond, up into the Gulf, down to Birdsville and across into the Northern Territory,” Ms Bishop said.

“It may be a big hike for some families to attend, but the Sport for Bush Kids benefits remote families in many different ways.

“Coming up to Christmas it is a great time for all the parents to come together and catch up in person and talk about their year,” Ms Bishop said.

“For children it introduces them to sport and gives them an idea of the sports available if they go away to boarding school.

“And finally it also benefits children who have not yet started school, to establish a connection with the Mount Isa School of the Air and meet their potential teachers.”

Sport for Bush Kids was supported by Queensland Swimming, Queensland Cricket and Queensland boarding schools.