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Dubbo PCYC gymnastics team to represent Wiradjuri Nation at Nation of Origins

Dubbo PCYC gymnastics team to represent Wiradjuri Nation at Nation of Origins

Dubbo PCYC manager Emily Ross starts to get goosebumps when she talks about the club's Indigenous Nations of Origin gymnastics team.

It's a regular occurrence for her and it was only a matter of weeks ago she burst into tears while watching their dance routine for the upcoming tournament.

Ross isn't alone as gymnastics coach Joshua Mann says his "mind gets blown every week" by the members of the Dubbo team, who will represent Wiradjuri Nation later this month.

That reaction stems from the pride created by seeing kids and teenagers from around the city coming together, putting any troubles they might have in their own lives aside, and committing to something.

This year will mark the first time Dubbo PCYC has sent a gymnastics team to the Indigenous Nations of Origin tournament.

Each of the seven kids in the Dubbo team had never tried their hand at gymnastics prior to roughly two months ago but, as members of the PCYC's Fit For Life sessions and the Friday night program, Project Walwaay, they've been hard at work each and every week since.

"I went in a couple of weeks ago to catch-up and see how they were going," Ross said.

"They showed me the dance component of team gym and I was literally sitting in there with tears in my eyes and goosebumps over my entire body.

"It's just beautiful and you can see how proud they are of what they're doing. And I think that's the really important thing, they know what they're doing and they make their way here and train and they put in 100 per cent while they're in that room training."

"They have natural talent," Mann added.

"I tell them that and my mind gets blown every week. They're full of surprises."

Project Walwaay is a police and community initiative working to engage with young Indigenous people and since it was started in late 2019 it has helped lower the juvenile offending rate in the city.

The Fit For Life sessions - along with the PCYC's Rise Up strategy - involve engaging with young people and hosting breakfasts and dinners as well as providing get-togethers, games, school drop-off by bus and sport activities.

"The connection we have with Walwaay is incredible and it's something no other PCYC has across the state, it's having that amazing partnership with our local police," Ross said.

"At the end of the day we all do it for the same reason and that's those kids who come through the doors.

"Whether it be gymnastics, boxing or the Friday night program or Fit for Life, it's why we're all here.

"One hundred per cent of our team has come to the club through different police programs we've run. Whether it's Fit for Life morning program or Walwaay, all have been disadvantaged or have been youth at risk.

"For us to be able to do this for them is pretty incredible and the appreciation is there. It's reciprocated both ways."

The Dubbo team is made-up of Tiahni Weekes, Destiny Frail, Markita Romans, Destiny Romans, Ashanti Stewart, Nikki Cohen and Georgia Walsh.

Club manager Ross said much of the credit for their development in recent weeks has been the ability coach Mann to bond and connect with the youngsters.

As much as he's enjoyed the chance to share his knowledge, seeing the team members improve and develop a passion for the sport has been the most rewarding aspect.

"They light up," Mann said.

"I might walk down the street and they'll see me and run up to me and say 'Josh, we practiced at school' or 'we found the music and have practiced at home'. They just light up and it's really good to see.

"For those kids to have not done a day of gymnastics and then to go and actually give it a go is more than any good result. It takes a lot of practice and time to do the discipline of gymnastics and for those kids to pick up what they have done is amazing."

It's not only trampoline routines or dance numbers that have been developed in the past two months.

The gymnastics program has also created a sense of responsibility and accountability within the team members.

If one of them is late for training it's common for the others to jump on their phones and give them the hurry-up while they regularly help each other out training and work together to execute the ideas Mann puts in place.

"They make the commitment themselves and they know that means you have to come to training," Ross said.

"If someone isn't here they're all on their phones and blasting them. If there's a form not filled out they're all on it.

"That's what is really nice. They hold each other accountable. It really creates that team sense and that is what team gym is all about."

That team gymnastics competition is made-up of a tumbling routine, a mini trampoline routine and a choreographed floor routine.

The Wiradjuri Nation will compete at the Nation of Origins at Maitland on July 14.

The Nation of Origin tournament has been cancelled the past two years due to COVID-19.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the Dubbo team to help with travel and training costs can contact Ross via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 0491 697 859.

Published in the Daily Liberal

(* Please note the 2022 PCYC Nations of Origin tournament was postpone this year due to severe floods and weather events across NSW. It will be rescheduled to run in October 2022.)