Police, firefighters, paramedics and young footy players bonded through sport this week, as Tag 4 Trust busted through social barriers.
On Wednesday, 13 teams and hundreds of people turned out for the first 2770 oztag gala day at Peter Van Hasselt Reserve in Willmot.
Emergency service members volunteered to coach the players throughout a day of competition, before lacing up the boots themselves for an exhibition match against the winning teams.
Rap 4 Change’s Ned Narouz knows all too well the feeling of being disassociated with police, having had run-ins with the law in his youth.
Created with the goal of changing the perception of police, Mr Narouz told the Star the event was everything he hoped it would be.
“All the feedback has been amazing,” he said. “It’s been a great day, you could see the trust being built between the kids and the cops.
“I want to say thanks to all of our volunteers, especially the guys who were down here at 6am setting up.
“We’ve got plans to make it bigger and better next year."
In the junior division, Ropes Tiggers were crowned champions over Ropes Roos. The Little Joeys, Willmot Sea Eagles, Willmot Wildcats and Kalinda’s Cubs also took to the field.
In the seniors, Mixed Magic won the day ahead of Bidwill Bulls. Mounty County Roosters, Tregear Phoenix, Tregear Raptors, Whalan Tigers and Bidwill Brumbies rounded out the competition.
But Ben Rose from The Hive, who helped organise the event alongside Graceades Community Cottage, Rap 4 Change and Jesuit Community Services, said the results weren’t important.
“I’ve had parents tell me that yesterday their kids would run away from the police. Today they’re cuddling them,” he said. “Stigmas have been smashed.
“But it’s not just about the cops and the kids bonding, it’s the parents getting to know [emergency services] as well.”
Ivanka Pelikan from Graceades Community Cottage said she was “tickled pink” with how the day unfolded.
“My dream was always to have emergency services involved. It’s so important for our kids,” she said.
“Coming to work in this community 10 years ago, I couldn’t believe some of the things the kids were saying about police.
“It’s important to show them that they’re not here to make your life miserable. Today showed we’re all in this together as a community.”
Senior Constable Kyle Jones from Mount Druitt police said he hoped to be back again next year.
“Today has been all about breaking down barriers between emergency services and young people,” he said.
“We don’t get to do this sort of thing too much, so seeing all the kids down here having fun has been great.”