To play Papunya: the problematic interface between a remote Aboriginal community and the organization of Australian Football in Central Australia

Barry Judd, Tim Butcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper outlines issues arising from engagement with the remote Aboriginal community of Papunya. Researching the relationship between the community's football club and the organization of competitive fixtures in the Central Australian Football League (CAFL), we found that contrary to popular discourse the well-being of men in Papunya may be damaged by their participation in ‘town football’. We outline the nature of the current relationship between Papunya and the CAFL and the efforts of Elders to reshape the organizational interface via the establishment of an ‘on-country’ football league. We highlight that organizational rhetoric about reconciliation and cross-cultural awareness is not enough to warrant effective working relationships with Papunya people. We argue that there is a need to move beyond recognition of difference that is embodied in such agendas to develop strategies of interface inclusive of Aboriginal understandings of football
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-551
Number of pages9
JournalSport in Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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