Indigenous twins spend six months traveling 3,000km between Alice Springs and NSW on CAMELS to be able to compete in the NRL.
- Tashiem and Tyler Abbott traveled almost 3000km in pursuit of their dreams.
- This feat was accomplished by the Indigenous twins riding CAMELS for six consecutive months
- They were only 12 years old at the time and were trying to achieve their rugby league dreams.
- They survived on damper and kangaroo porridge as well as occasional bacon and egg rolls.
It’s more like a movie than real life. Tashiem and Tyler Abbott, twins from Indigenous Australia, wanted to be in rugby league. They rode camels almost 3000 kilometers to achieve their dream.
Barry Watts, the handler, took the brothers on six-month journey from Alice Springs, NSW, to Taree, which was approximately 2900km in some of the most wild places in the world.
They are part of the elite Indigenous under-16s program at the NSW Rugby League (NSWRL). The boys have already made waves, despite being raised in the AFL-dominated red heart.
The journey of many steps started with one camel hoof.
Tashiem Abbott and Tyler Abbott traveled almost 3000km in camels, starting at Alice Springs in the Northern Territoty and ending at Taree on NSW’s north coast.
Tashiem said that they started from Alice Spring to Taree using camels. It took them six months.
“We did the traveling to get out of trouble in Alice Springs. Now, we’re down there playing footy and getting more opportunities…footy has changed my life.
Aged just 15 years, the twins have family in Taree and now play footy with Taree Red Rovers can also participate in Clontarf Academy which encourages Indigenous high schools students to play rugby league.
They spent three days with top Indigenous players at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence, Sydney Olympic Park, recently. This caught the attention of Brad Fittler, Blues legend and current coach.
It is safe to say that their journey to Homebush proved to be more difficult than for any other players.
The boys had a six-month-long diet of damper, porridge, and occasionally bacon and eggs rolls when they were able to get them. They hunted kangaroos for their meat and were able to avoid encountering Australia’s notorious wildlife such as brown snakes or dingoes.
Tashiem and Tyler Abbott, both 12 years old from Alice Springs, spent three days in the elite academy for Indigenous players at NSWRL.
“We started with 10 camels. But when we arrived in Taree, we only had four. Tyler said that some went missing and others died, and that he sold two of them along the way. NSWRL.
“We had a map, and we never felt lost or afraid. When we started, we were only 12.
‘We do feel a sense of pride but there was a purpose – we wanted to get to our family in Taree and to play rugby .eague.’
After the animals were brought to Australia in 1840 from the Canary Islands, Indigenous people are known for their skills with camel handling and their ability to travel far with them.
Many Feral camels can be found in the middle of Australia. Indigenous Australians are skilled at handling them, as well as using them to transport large areas.
It was a challenge to play a game in Alice Springs.
Tashiem explained that they didn’t know any NRL rules, and had previously played AFL. He said that his approach was in line with his role as back-line utility players.
‘I chose NRL to run the ball because it’s easy and makes my heart pump.
As part of the program, Brad Fittler, a current mentor in NSW and Blues legend, coached the twins.
Both brothers are already strong and ready for rugby league at 15 years old, with Tyler at lock.
Tashiem, with a twinkle in his eyes, suggested that they knew the club they wanted to play for should their dreams come true.
‘We’d like to go to the NRL – South Sydney maybe, although we might start with the Wests Tigers,’ he laughed.
They got the wooden spoon in 2022, so they might need some assistance.