Tiwi artist and author Debbie Coombes launches a gorgeous new picture book about a favourite Aussie pastime. The children’s book Going to the Footy launches this month through Magabala Books, Australia’s leading Indigenous publisher. About the different modes of transport that get you to the footy, Debbie has written this book in a style that young ones will love. They will particularly love the traditional Tiwi art Debbie has used, illustrating barges, cars, tinnys, troopies, buses and other ways they can get to their beloved games.

It is an introduction to Indigenous art for little ones, and is a great read-aloud between parents and children. Going to the Footy is not only part of the Tiwi culture, but Debbie’s upbringing. “As a little girl, I played a lot of footy with the boys after school on our footy oval or anywhere we could. We all had nicknames. I was Warwick Capper,” she said. “Everyone loves the game of footy. It is part of who we are as Tiwi people and in fact, this year marks 50 years since footy has started on the Islands. We have grown up knowing the sport as little toddlers to adults. If we are not playing, we are supporting our individual teams.”

Debbie hopes the book will inspire young children and families to spend more time together. “Whether it is going to the footy, hunting, ceremonies or just doing fun things together,” she said. “I hope children will want to share their stories by illustrating books of their own and be very proud to do so.” Debbie is now well known in artistic circles for her joyful depictions of Tiwi life in figurative forms like people travelling by cars and canoes of all shapes and sizes to the football: a huge part of contemporary Tiwi lifestyle.

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