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AFL's Indigenous players push for All-Star game return

Jackson Clark -

The AFL's Indigenous and multicultural players want a revival of an Indigenous All-Stars game, according to findings released last week from the 2022 Indigenous and Multicultural Players Summit.

The recommendations suggested that the league's Indigenous and multicultural players also sought more investment in post-career pathways, full-time Indigenous player development managers and continued work to address structural racism and cultural safety.

The AFL's National Diversity Talent Manager Pauly Vandenbergh believed that the summit provided an 'important platform' for the AFL to discuss key issues.

"It was fantastic to be able to bring together for the first time both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, along with multicultural players from the both the AFL and AFLW," Vandenbergh said.

"The summit offers an important platform for both the AFL and AFLPA to come together with players to discuss the issues that impact Indigenous and multicultural players and identify ways to work more collaboratively together and continue to drive initiatives across the industry."

The Indigenous All-Stars defeated Carlton at TIO Stadium in 2003. (Image: Michael Marschall)

"It also provided a mechanism for players to deliver feedback to the AFL and AFLPA, helping us build more robust relationships and support the needs of AFL and AFLW Indigenous and multicultural players in the future."

Many of the players who attended the summit pushed for the formation of an Indigenous vs. Multicultural team clash, which would be the first time the Indigenous All-Stars have featured since 2015.

In late 2022, reports emerged that the AFL were working towards holding this game in 2024, however nothing has been scheduled.

Andrew Dillon, now the AFL's CEO, said while serving as the footy operations boss that the match would be great for the game.

"(It would) bring together the industry, provide a platform to universally rally around and celebrate the diversity of footy," Dillon said.

"It will be a privilege to offer a game such as this to the community and we look forward to seeing these cohorts of talent in our game come together and showcased at some point in the future."

Between 2003 and 2015, the Indigenous All-Stars team competed biennially against AFL clubs at various venues around Australia.

In 2003, the game between the Indigenous All-Stars and Carlton set an attendance record of 17,500 people at Darwin's TIO Stadium, which is still held to this day.

That night, the All-Stars 19.16 (130) defeated Carlton 8.9 (57) with Adam Goodes awarded the Polly Farmer Medal for being judged best afield.

Following that contest, the All-Stars posted wins against the Western Bulldogs, Adelaide and Richmond, and losses to Essendon and West Coast.

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