Two AFL Canberra clubs celebrate Indigenous Round with specially designed indigenous Guernseys

Doug Dobing 1 June 2017

Tuggeranong Hawks and Marist College AFL clubs celebrate the 2017 Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round with specially designed indigenous guernseys this weekend.

Vice President Tuggeranong Hawks AFL Gerrit ‘Chief’ Wanganeen said their senior team would play in the specially designed indigenous Guernsey for the day, thanks to sponsor Rubik3.

“We’ ve been lucky enough to have a sponsor to come on board, allowing us to play in an indigenous jumper for the day,” said the ‘Chief’.

“That jumper was designed by Tom Hodge. We’re not only proud to show off his talents but to play a part in [the] indigenous round,” he said.

Tuggeranong Hawks Reserve grade player Tom Hodge said it was an absolute honour to design the Guernsey and see his mates running around in it.

“On the front we have the hawk, being our totem, then a meeting place behind the hawk, Greenway[Oval], which is our home ground,” said Hodge.

“On the back, we have two different water holes which signify our junior teams and our senior teams and the pathways between them,” he said.

Northern Territory AFL player Ike Ryan has recently moved to Canberra to play with the Tuggeranong Hawks AFL club. He said this is the first time he has played AFL in a specially designed AFL Guernsey.

“My mum and family are pretty proud of it. So it means a fair bit to me,” said Ryan.

Talking about Indigenous Round, Wanganeen said: “We have a long and proud history with indigenous players at the club and this is a fantastic way to recognise it.”

“We are lucky enough to live and work and play our footy, here on Ngunnawal country,” said Wanganeen.

“So for us, it’s a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge those people, the traditional custodians,” he said.

Traditionally the smoking ceremony is to cleanse the soul, to ward away bad spirits and to bring in the good spirits, said Wanganeen.

Ngambri and Ngunnawal Elder Auntie Louise Brown gave the welcome to country. Chief Minister Andrew Barr, CEO Winnunga Julie Tongs and Tuggeranong Hawks AFL President Annette Ellis also participated in the official welcome.

“I pay my respects to my past and our present and to our future to keep it going. And we will. Because we are a very, very strong people,” said Aunty Louise.

“I especially acknowledge the campaigners of the 1967 [Constitutional] Referendum for I am a product of your efforts,” she said.

Chief Minister Barr said; “[The AFL] is Australia’s indigenous game, it has played a great role in working with indigenous communities right across the country.”

“To capture emerging talent and fantastic athletes. But also played an important role in bridging cultural divides and standing up to racism.”

“We’ve seen that quite significantly play out in the last few decades through a very clear policy of inclusion.”

“The AFL would be one of the Nation’s leading sporting codes in this respect.”

‘Chief’ Wanganeen said The 2017 Sir Doug Nicholls Round and Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate major historic indigenous events, including the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Constitutional Referendum and the 25th Anniversary of the High Court Mabo Decision.

“It’s 20 years since the ‘Bringing them home’ report, which was about the stolen generation,” he said

“The 3 June is obviously the anniversary of the Mabo decision in the High Court.”

Marist College wore a special indigenous themed Guernsey, thanks to Indigenous Canberra designer and owner of Darkies Designs Dion Devow.

“It’s a real privilege to be part of being able to design the jerseys,” said Mr Devow.

“[I feel] overwhelmed, no words to describe. I’ve designed clothing that’s been worn by people all the country and different organisations,” he said.

“The Governor General has a tie and his wife has a scarf that I designed. But this is the one that is the most closest to my heart and the one I’m most proud of.”

“Because it’s about my son and about being a part of [the] Marist community and sharing our culture with his peers and our local community here in Canberra.”

“We should be proud of the fact that Australia is home to the oldest living culture in the world. And that needs to be celebrated.”

What AFL Indigenous Round or Reconciliation Week activities do you plan to go to?

Photos by Doug Dobing. Photo 1: Gerrit ‘Chief’ Wanganeen (Tuggeranong Hawks Vice President) and Ike Ryan (Div 1 player); Photo 2: Gerrit Wanganeen (Tuggeranong Hawks Vice President), Aunty Loise Brown (Ngambri/Ngunnawal Elder), Tom Hodges (designer), Guy Earnshaw (Rubik3); Photo 3: Tuggeranong Hawks team wearing Indigenous Round Guernseys; Photo 4: Ike Ryan wearing the specially designed Indigenous Round Guernsey; Photo 5: Les Bateman (Didgeridoo Player), Adrian Brown (Smoking Ceremony), Aunty Louise Brown (Ngambri/Ngunnawal Elder), Andrew Barr (ACT Chief Minister), Julie Tongs (CEO Winnunga); Photo 6: The coin toss. Ashley Pocock (Hawks Captain), Andrew Barr (ACT Chief Minister), Julie Tongs (CEO Winnunga), Jesse Wilesmith (Jets Captain).

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