Growing up I lived next door to my Grandma and so I was incredibly lucky to be able to celebrate and recognise my Indigenous heritage with her. I’d take in the stories she’d share about her childhood and what it means to be Indigenous.
I grew up loving hunting and fishing and would often spend my time yabbying with my uncle where he grew up. I feel privileged to have been able to enjoy those activities and celebrate my culture through my family.
Here at Port Adelaide, we’re pretty lucky as a playing group to be guided by Pauly Vandenergh and his team. The work they do helps us as players to get in touch with our culture a little bit more. Paul is really instrumental in helping us explore our heritage. As a playing group we’re led by the likes of Paddy Ryder and Sam Powell-Pepper who drive our values as Indigenous men.
With Sir Doug Nicholls Round starting tonight and being held over the next two weeks, as a club we spent Tuesday making traditional boomerangs and spears. The day wasn’t about the Indigenous playing group but ensuring our whole club was involved in celebrating culture.
As a group we all joined in learning the traditional dance of the Kaurna People. You could tell the guys that hadn’t experienced that before really enjoyed and appreciated having the opportunity to expand their understanding.
Earlier in the year at the Indigenous All Stars Summit we made a pact to catch up more as Indigenous players. There was one in Melbourne earlier this year and our dinner in South Australia was next on the calendar. Being a two-team town it worked out perfectly that we could celebrate this ahead of Indigenous Round.
As all Aboriginal people do, we celebrated our evening by eating together and sharing yarns with our family. The experience of getting to know opposition players in a relaxed environment away from the football field was something I’ll treasure.
The rivalry between teams in South Australia is strong so often we only see these players on the field or read about them in the papers but to get to know them as people was really special and a great initiative from the playing group.
I only made my AFL debut last week, which was surreal, but the opportunity to be part of this round as a player and for the wider AFL industry is significant. This occasion provides a great opportunity for Australians to take a step back and recognise and appreciate Indigenous culture.
It’s also a great chance to celebrate the old fellas, such as Doug Nicholls, who paved the way for us in the early days and pushed for opportunities like this one.
I feel incredibly proud to be part of this round and look forward to seeing the Port Adelaide boys proudly wear a jumper designed by our teammate Sam Powell-Pepper.