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AFL puts brakes on Indigenous All-Stars match

Jarred Cross -

An AFL season curtain raiser featuring an Indigenous All-Stars side is set to be delayed 12 months, according to reports.

Last December, a match showcasing the competition's best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent against a multicultural outfit was forcast for the upcoming preseason period following the league and AFLPA's Indigenous and Multicultural Player Summit in Geelong.

Clubs, executives and players were reportedly keen on the idea with a date in February 2024 flagged.

The concept had wide support with AFL general manager, now-chief executive Andrew Dillion labelling the opportunity as a "privilege".

"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," Dillion said in 2022.

Now, reports of a delay have emerged following meetings between league and club executives with concerns over the short timeline to organise the game despite maintained interest in the idea.

The men's season kicks off a week earlier than usual with the AFL opting for an 'opening round' with games in New South Wales and Queensland ahead of round one.

Early 2025 now looks the likely option for an Indigenous v Multicultural representative fixture.

All-Indigenous representative line-ups have been a sporadic feature throughout the football calendar this century.

An All-Stars team was last fielded to face West Coast for an exhibition match in 2015.

Two years earlier, an all-Indigenous side represented Australia in the once-regular International Rules series against Ireland.

Indigenous All Stars International Rules side training in 2013. (Image: AAP)

Despite the patchy history, an annual fixture would bring Aussie rules up to speed with the NRL's Indigenous and Maori All Stars regular showpiece ahead of their season.

The AFL regularly hosts junior camps featuring Indigenous and multicultural talent from across the country as part of its pathways system.

Recently, Carlton and Adelaide icon Eddie Betts organised an under-age match through his foundation to face an inner-Melbourne representative side.

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