Round 10 in the 2016 AFL season is known as the Indigenous Round, the Sir Doug Nicholls round and its importance was for me something that never really meant too much in regards to the vital importance that this round should have. That was until on a cold, rainy Wednesday night in May, 2016, when I, together with other Cheer Squad members from the majority of clubs listened and watched as members of the Indigenous people relayed their profound and quite moving message.
Now I rarely write anything that is political in nature, this is not the forum for that but I have always been a supporter of the rights of the Aboriginal people to be treated as equals in Australia and not anything less. That night I realized that it means so much more than what we, the average footy fanatic believes it to be. The group of people, all Cheer Squad members of their teams, listened as we went through the gamut of history of these proud and rightly so, people and their struggle to achieve a sense of equality in modern Australia. Sir Doug Nicholls epitomizes what it means to be a tenacious person who stood up for what he believed in and how he became a beacon for not only his people, but for footy and for Australia. His humility, his integrity and his brilliance as a sportsman on the footy field is something, as one of his daughters’s stated, is the real essence of what a footy player should be.
We were able to listen to two players, Mathew Stokes (Essendon) and Shane Edwards (Richmond) who spoke about their struggles and triumphs not only the field as Indigenous players, but as people off the field.
The Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round is so much more than everyone thinks it is and something that should not be just limited to one round in sport, but every day. Australia is a melting pot of many cultures and on the whole, we are accepting and even embrace these cultures, but we do not do enough to accept and embrace a culture that is far older than we can imagine and is part of our national heritage.
The AFL round 10 matches, no matter who you support, should and must be more than just a recognition and celebration of our cultural heritage. The AFL as a community has a powerful tool in its hands and as we are all ambassadors of this great sport and we should all relish and support the phenomenal role our Indigenous players have and still play in footy and in the community. This round means more than you will ever realise and we must keep on pushing for equality.
#BOUND BY BLUE
P.S Please join this group below in ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are recognised in our Constitution.