Hard work and perseverance has paid off for the Katherine Karraks ALF team despite narrowly missing out on making finals at this week's Top End Cup.
Taking on teams from right across the Northern Territory, the cup is more than just a competition for the boys.
They are all part of the Clontarf Foundation - a program aimed at engaging young men in school and assisting them to participate in education, employment and society in a positive way.
Just 23 players were selected from a pool of close to 100, and they had to work for it.
For team captain Dimitrius Redford and Mike Thompson it was a case of close to perfect school attendance and taking part in all the morning training which landed them on the team.
With barriers in place for many students in Katherine, especially those in the Clontarf program - making it to school every day is a feat.
"AFL is our favourite sport," Dimitrius said today.
He had just come off the field, defeated in the semi finals 10 - 19 against the Alice Springs team, but positive about the Karraks' return - and ultimate win - next year.
The game is a key motivator for the young players, Clontarf's Ryan Gorman said, who could easily fall through the cracks.
"Sport is the carrot we use to get the boys to engage with school and make sure everyone is doing the best they can," he said.
"We figured out a long time ago that sport was king, because they all love it, and it has been really successful."
Mr Gorman, who helps run the Clontarf program for students from years seven to 12, said the Top End Cup has not only been a key driver in motivating positivity at school, but also an opportunity to meet other students from across the Territory.
Established in 2008, Clontarf has seen positive results from supporting the students with their education pathways and highlighting the importance of well being.
But it is sporting events like these which make the biggest impact.
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