Sir Doug Nicholls Round: AFL Canberra

This week kicks off the 2019 Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round (SDNR) which celebrates the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made to our game. This will be honoured across rounds 10 and 11 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season, beginning with the Marngrook match between Sydney and Collingwood at the SCG, followed by the annual Dreamtime at the G match between Essendon and Richmond on Saturday night.

Over the past three years, AFL Canberra have implemented a number of  initaitves across the region with a focus on improving their engagement with the local Indigenous Community.

“In 2016, we met with key advisors and established a plan with a strong emphasis on improving engagement, participation and community education.” said Luke Martin, Game Development Manager.

This plan was inclusive of introducing in-school Kickstart programs focused on providing local indigenous students the opportunity to participate in organised weekly football sessions. These have been held at Ngunnawal, Namadgi, Narrabundah, Wanniassa Primary Schools, as well as Queanbeyan. The Program incorporates education on indigenous history, as well as healthy lifestyle choices through nutrition and keeping active, using Australian Rules Football. 

In 2018, AFL Canberra partnered with the GIANTS to launch First Footprints, an initiative supported by the ACT Government’s Indigenous Sports Partnered Program grant.

In November 2019, the GIANTS, Dr John Hunter and his support team from Murama headed to St Mary Mackillop’s College to host a tailored workshop for indigenous students. This session was dedicated to learning about Aboriginal culture and history, what intergenerational trauma is and how it continues to have an impact on the Aboriginal community. The students were encouraged to invite their parents to converse about their lives and cultural perception –  learning more about their experience and how this has formed their identity.

Following this the students had the opportunity to participate in the annual four-day Murama Indigenous Youth Summit at Sydney Olympic Park. This gave the students an opportunity to develop their growth, explore their heritage and be empowered to lead their schools, sporting clubs and communities.

The First Footprints also enabled AFL Canberra to continue their Kickstart Programs with one highlight being a six week Indigenous Auskick course at Queanbeyan Football Club which involved 98 indigenous students coming together and walking from school to training.

The above initiatives have led to significant growth in participation with a 110% increase from 2016 in Auskick and Club Football in the ACT.

“All of the above would not have been possible without the support of our local clubs, schools, partners and the ACT Government who have provided our team with the support and funding to utilise our game as a vehicle for change” said Martin.

The First Footprints initiative will be continue to be a critical element the AFL Canberra League’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round on the 24th to the 26th of May.

Across the grounds in the ACT, goal post wraps designed by former Tuggeranong Hawks midfielder, Thomas Hodge, will be on show. Hodge has played a significant role in the growth of celebrating Indigenous culture in the ACT. His passion, insight and art have allowed AFL Canberra to continue to progress the game, so that everyone can share in it’s proud indigenous heritage.

Hodge’s design incorporates the silhouette of Black Mountain Tower and the historic colours that represent AFL Canberra. Hodge will also be painting footballs to be kept as a legacy piece at the AFL Canberra Office.

Umpires from our first grade competition will don custom designed on field shirt that has been inspired by the artwork of ACT primary school students who participated in designing their own Indigenous guernsey at Greenway Oval in 2018.

Consulting firm Rubik3 have come on board to support the round and will be providing Kickstart footballs to schools and participants at the Round. Rubik3 have supported the Tuggeranong Hawks Indigenous Guernsey for the past three years and allowed them continue the conversation about connection and culture.


Tuggeranong Hawks v Eastlake Demons at Greenway Oval 

The Tuggeranong Hawks will reveal their 2019 indigenous guernsey, designed for the third year by Thomas Hodge. This year the design is inspired by heritage with images of old and young warriors facing each other.

The Eastlake Demons will also be revealing their first indigenous guernsey designed by player, Liam Lupton. This design was inspired by the Molonglo River (commonly known as Lake Burley Griffin) and recognises the iconic water feature that was “once the main source of life for the Traditional owners of this land, the Ngunnawal/Ngambri people” said Lupton

The main event will begin from 12:45pm with both first grade men’s and women’s sides participating in a smoking ceremony, welcome to country and group photo.  This year will also see the Best on Ground awards renamed as the “Gerrit Wanganeen Medal” and presented at 6.00pm.

Marist Australian Football Club at Lindwall Oval

Marist College will be wearing specially designed Indigenous Jumpers this weekend as they host teams at Lindwall Oval for the third year, designed by 2018 ACT Australian of the Year, Dion Devow. Acknowledgements will be done throughout the day and prior to each of the games. Marist will also be holding their inaugural club luncheon at the oval since it’s renovations.

Weston Creek Wildcats at Stirling/Reid Oval

For the first time, the Weston Creek Wildcats from our ActewAGL Junior League will be wearing specially designed Indigenous strip for their games this weekend. This will feature on Saturday at Stirling Oval and on Sunday at Reid Oval.

Monologo Juggernauts at Stirling Oval

Next weekend the Molongolo Juggernauts will recognise Sir Doug Nicholls Round with a smoking ceremony and indigenous guernseys for their players when they host the ADFA Rams at Stirling.

Check out our full 2019 fixture here.

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