The second annual Deadly Cup Carnival delivered on its promise of being "bigger and deadlier" when the Indigenous initiative took place in Darwin last Sunday.
NRL NT supported the Cup, which staged seven rugby league matches in various male and female age groups and attracted about 2500 spectators to Territory Rugby League Stadium.
The brainchild of Deadly Enterprises director Shaun Tatipata, the Deadly Cup was organised to celebrate NAIDOC Week while promoting positive health and wellbeing in the community.
The weekend's success followed the inaugural Cup last November.
"We came up with the concept [because] we were looking to raise awareness and support for an Indigenous eye clinic that we were trying to set up," said Tatipata, a proud Wuthathi and Ngarrindjeri man with more than 20 years' experience as an Aboriginal Health Worker.
"This was an opportunity to use rugby league to celebrate NAIDOC Week and to bring community together towards a common vision and purpose, raise awareness and support for health and wellbeing of Indigenous people, and showcase all of the rugby league talent that we have in our own community.
"Deadly Enterprises is an Indigenous enterprise striving to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people. Our goal is to close the gap in eye health outcomes for Indigenous people."
Fourteen teams took part across seven divisions – under 15s and 17s girls, under 14s, 16s and 18s boys and senior men and women. The Indigenous All Stars and Territory All Stars faced off in each game.
"Those teams are made up of some of our deadliest players across the NRL NT competition," Tatipata said.
"And we select coaches that align with the values that we have and their willingness to contribute to the cause – and the cause is advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"They go about selecting the teams with the support of Darren Manaway, the NRL game development officer up here [in Darwin].
"Last year, the Indigenous All Stars pretty much dominated across the carnival. This year, the Territory All Stars came back even stronger and they won every game except for the senior men's."
Deadly sprint races were held during the half-time breaks of the matches as a way to engage those who weren't playing.
In the lead-up to the Deadly Cup, Indigenous Allied Health Australia helped organise a cultural day for junior players with the aim of nurturing "future leaders".
Tatipata is excited for the carnival to develop. It was planned that invitational Indigenous ADF and Army All Stars teams would participate this year until COVID-19 restrictions intervened.
"We're definitely going to go out to community, we're going to talk to them about what was deadly about the Deadly Cup and what was gammin, or what we could improve next year," Tatipata said.
"We'll take that feedback on board and continue to support it to grow into the future and make it as amazing as what we know it can be."
Tatipata thanked Indigenous Allied Health Australia, NRL NT and particularly game development officer Darren Manaway for their contributions.
NRL NT general manager Nigel Roy added: "The NRL NT is proud to partner with Deadly Enterprises to deliver such a fantastic carnival celebrating Indigenous people, their culture and the rugby league talent in our community."