Indigenous Round Wrap-Up
By Sam Burge and Lachlan Bryce
Historians are divided on the origins of Australian Rules Football but there is no doubting that the indigenous game of Marngrook has inspired the modern game we know today.
In AFL Canberra’s Indigenous Round, all indigenous influence and inspiration to the game of Australian Rules Football is celebrated.
The Tuggeranong Valley Australian Football club celebrate indigenous culture better than any and hosted Eastlake on Ngunnawal country at Greenway Oval.
Before the first grade men’s game, the Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony took place creating a special atmosphere which is recounted below.
Tuggeranong’s second grade men fought hard in the curtain raiser but Eastlake were too good in the end, winning 69-44. It was nice to leave that on the field and instead of dwelling on the loss, enjoy the smoking ceremony and cleanse away all negative energies.
While the second-grade men had finished their game and were huddling around the ceremony. Billy Tompkins performed a Welcome to Country and first-Grade Men’s and Women’s players walked out into the ceremony wearing their newly designed Indigenous jerseys. It was the first time anybody had seen the jerseys after their ‘last minute arrival’.
It was great to see the continued acknowledgement of Indigenous culture. It wasn’t limited to just Tuggeranong players either and I think that was one of the best parts about it, everyone was involved. Eastlake as a club took part equally as much and were wearing there away jersey which contains a permanent indigenous design.
Tuggeranong wore a jersey titled ‘Connection’ which is designed by indigenous players Logan Gray, Tom Hodge and Kristen Hodge.
The jersey acknowledges the history of Aussie Rules in the Tuggeranong Valley and recognises the pathway of junior players becoming senior players.
The three meeting places on the back of the jersey represent the Tuggeranong’s old junior clubs- The Bulldogs, Lions and Swans. The rivers from each of the junior clubs flow into one, representing the journey to becoming senior players.
The Hawks club is represented through the colouring of the river. This single river flows to the main meeting place on the front of the jersey which represents the newly amalgamated Tuggeranong Valley Australian Football Club.
Alongside the main meeting place are the totems of Tuggeranong’s indigenous players. One of these totems is the Yam which represents Logan Gray and his family’s origins in central Australia.
A proud Arrernte man, Logan Gray was born in Alice Springs and moved to Canberra when he was 10. He immediately found a home at Tuggeranong playing footy and is now one of the club’s leaders.
Asked what it means to play for a club that celebrates its indigenous players and their culture so well, Logan said he’s very honoured to play for Tuggeranong.
“I’m Very proud of Tuggeranong for being the first club in Canberra to do something with the jersey and celebrate such a significant round.
“Over the last 4 years that we’ve been doing indigenous round, it’s definitely one that I keep in the calendar and it’s very special to my heart.”
Eastlake are a big part of the celebration also. In 2019 Eastlake wore an indigenous jersey designed by former player Liam Lupton.
In 2021, Eastlake’s away jersey throughout the year has an indigenous design which is their way of recognising the first nation’s people and their contribution to Australian Rules Football.
On a day where things more important than football were celebrated, the Eastlake Men were too good for Tuggeranong winning 207-61. Aaron Bruce was great up forward kicking six goals but it was new recruit Max O’Sullivan who kicked seven and was awarded the Gerrit Wanganeen medal.
In the Women’s game, Eastlake were once again too strong winning 58-19. Eastlake and GWS player Jess Allan was judged best on ground and received a Wanganeen medal of her own.
At ANU, the Griffins celebrated Indigenous round with a Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country. The ‘students’ also celebrated their 60th anniversary as a football club. The Griffins will hopefully get to wear their Indigenous jerseys in the coming weeks which are designed by Ngunnawal artists Richie Allan and Richie Allan Jr.
Indigenous round celebrations continued around Canberra last weekend with the Weston Creek Wildcats and Marist football clubs hosting events of their own. This continued acknowledgement and constant celebration of Indigenous culture is so important for society and the Canberra footy community are doing a great job so let’s keep it going!