The heat might have been scorching, but so was the action on the field, with a team of community members declared the winner of the annual Gunji Origin Reconciliation Cup.
Police, students, PCYC and community members battled it out in oz-tag matches as the Illawarra sweltered under severe heatwave conditions on Monday, September 18.
A 'community team' won the day, with a team of students from Warilla High School declared runner-up.
There was seven teams in this year's competition, with last year's winners - the community team - talking big prior to taking to the oval.
Player Troy Fittler said he was "hoping to beat the gunjis".
"We're going to play hard, work hard," he said.
Four high schools took part in the competition, including Dapto, Lake Illawarra, Oak Flats and Warilla.
Dapto High student Tameka Bayly, 17, is just about to finish her schooling and was keen to go out on a high.
"Our strategy is to win is hold the ball and score tries," she said before games started.
Oaks Flats student Cordae Hezemans, 13, said his team's strategy was to: "Make a break for the line and pass to the girls".
This year's Gunji Cup drew the attention of thousands of people around Cec Glenholmes Oval as Lake Illawarra Police District Superintendent Craig Ireland arrived in a PolAir helicopter to deliver the trophy.
"It's a community event where police and the community can come together, especially our Indigenous members and the young people in the community," he said.
"It's a non-threatening environment. Normally when people interact with the police something bad has happened."
Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer Glen Sutherland created the event in 2022 because he wanted to bring police and the community together.
"It's just such an important community event," he said. "The benefit is seeing the police in a positive light and putting a positive event on for community.
"This is about coming together and knowing that police are your community as well."
Games were played with seven people on each side and two girls required on each team.
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