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Office of Sport


A keep-away game of catch ball from the north-west central districts of Queensland played by both genders. Because the action of the players jumping up to catch the ball resembled the movements of a kangaroo the Kalkadoon people sometimes described this game as the ‘kangaroo-play’. The ball itself was made of a piece of opossum, wallaby or kangaroo hide tied up with twine.


Teams of 4–8 players

Playing area

A designated area such as a netball court


A ball such as a size 3–4 soccer ball

Game play and basic rules

A running, passing and catching game. The ball is thrown from one player to another player of the same team. All players (team in possession and defenders) must have two feet off the ground to play the ball — both in throwing and catching.

No physical contact is allowed and guarding from 1 metre away only is allowed. Players cannot stop opposing players from moving around the area — no interference is allowed. Passes must be a minimum of 2 metres.

The player in possession of the ball may move around the playing area for up to four steps after landing and before they play the ball. If the ball is dropped or knocked to the ground by a player trying to catch it, the other team gains possession.

A change of possession also occurs when a thrown ball falls to the ground untouched or a player steps out of the playing area. If the team with the ball lose possession or drop the ball on the ground, the defenders may pick up the ball and play the advantage.

Players may not dive on the ball but must bend over and pick it up.  A player cannot hold the ball for more than 3 seconds while standing still.  When a free throw is taken, defenders must be at least 3 metres away.

The ball may be contacted in a controlled manner (while in the air) with an open palm in playing it to another player — no punching the ball is allowed. The ball cannot be deliberately played into another player in an attempt to gain possession. Contacting the ball below the knee (kicking) is not allowed but advantage can be allowed for the non-offending team if this occurs.


  • Practice in pairs or with one player standing 5–10 metres out in front of a line of players. The player out in front jumps and passes the ball for the first player in line to run out and jump into the air to catch. After catching the ball and landing on the ground the player then jumps into the air and passes it back to the thrower. Players may also practice jumping into the air to catch the ball and pass it back to the thrower before they land on the ground (catch and pass in one action).
  • As a keep-away skill game, two teams of 4–6 players use half of a basketball court and attempt to retain possession for 10 passes to score 1 point. In a competition the first team to 5 points is the winner.
  • As a competitive game two teams of 5–8 players use a netball or basketball court. Play starts from the centre of the court with a pass. Players attempt to pass to a player from their team who is in the goal semi-circle (netball) or ‘key’ (basketball) to score 1 point. After a score, the ball is passed in from the baseline by the defending team. A player from the defending team opposes the player in the scoring area and no other players are allowed in the area.


  • Players run freely around the area.
  • Play continues even if the ball is dropped on the ground.


The name is taken from ‘play’ (keentan) in the Wik- Mungkan language of north Queensland.  

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