31 May, 2017

Aussie Rules and the first Australians

As highlighted in my post about the Barwon Football Club from 2011, Geelong and the Barwon have long had a connection with Australian Rules Football (AFL) and last weekend, I noticed another connection in the media.
Round 10, 2017 was the AFL's Sir Doug Nicholls indigenous round. According to the AFL website, the indigenous round is aimed at "recognising and celebrating indigenous players and [their] culture" and is named after indigenous footballer, advocate for reconciliation and the first Aboriginal person to be awarded a knighthood - Doug Nicholls.
To mark the occasion, each club wore a jersey bearing an indigenous design relevant to the club and its history. This year, the jumpers worn by the Geelong Cats told the story of the Wathaurong people, the traditional owners of the land surrounding Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula and beyond, extending north west to Ballarat and east as far as Werribee. The design on the jumpers was created by artist Nathan Patterson of Iluka Design, an indigenous artist born in the Northern Territory but now residing in Torquay.
Guernsey worn by the Geelong players during the 2017 indigenous round
The jersey, designed to have a strong local focus, features a meeting place as the central design with the sun rising behind the You Yangs. In the Wathaurong language, Kardinia means "the first ray of light". In front of the You Yangs, the Barwon River flows to the sea.
Over the decades Geelong has had nine players of known indigenous heritage play for the club at VFL/AFL level. Of those players however, only one - Allen Christiensen - was raised in the Geelong region.
In recent years, the Geelong Football Club have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which aims to promote inclusiveness, respect and other cultural values amongst all club members for both the wider community and in particular indigenous Australians. To this end, they are involved with the local Wathaurong community as well as the larger indigenous population across the country, developing programs to both educate and promote the reconciliation message.

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