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The Moreton Bay figs tribute that brings a smile to the Lions Indigenous face

Andrew Mathieson -

The anticipated wait to reveal the most recent AFLW Indigenous guernseys somehow passed by one of the biggest supporters of the groundbreaking competition.

Much to Aunty Pam Pedersen's behest, one of the designs told a very personal story.

The Aboriginal artwork on guernseys have had their place in line with the AFL theme for a decade that extended to the female game in 2017, a year after Indigenous rounds for men were named in honour of Sir Doug Nicholls for his own telling contribution.

The youngest of his three surviving children and custodian of her dad's legacy was as much surprised as she was dismayed to bypass the weekend-to-weekend celebrations.

"I didn't even see any of it," Pedersen says.

"I feel I have missed out so much of late.

"So I'm disappointed because I have been so busy."

There was no invite to a launch nor was there a text for the devoted Lions fan to cast an eye first before the public had a glance on the website of her surrogate club.

The lack of fanfare hurt more for a team she holds onto so dear, while rekindling the earliest recollection of memories from her dad's playing days with old Fitzroy once the National Indigenous Times sent her a once familiar image on the guernsey.

"They like to use dad's name a lot, which I am really happy about, but it would be nice if they let me know or send me the top," she says.

There stood – tall and wide – the dark shapes of Moreton Bay Fig trees hovering over the blue skies, the yellow sunset and the ochre soil that turned maroon with age.

It was Aboriginal Dreamtime meeting the same trees Nicholls, as the preacher for an Indigenous community, would address his followers from Fitzroy under a famous fig.

The trees are not only be sighted in the women's home and away guernseys, but also in the genetical product from its Melbourne saplings growing at one end of the goals at Brisbane's new training facility and AFLW home venue at suburban Springfield.

"I think they are really doing well in remembering dad, more than we could ask for," Pedersen says.

"It would be nice to know when I can get a chance to go there now to see these trees – I'm not too sure when they will happen, but I want to go up next year."

They are still a work in progress nearly three years after the seeds and cuttings were first complexly extracted from the one Carlton Gardens fig that Pedersen must have stared up hundreds of times as an aspirational little girl.

For a young Pam Nicholls, the pride and joy of the ordained pastor, post-war life was all about the mob standing together, cups of teas, and that tree. Always with that tree.

"The community was wonderful in those days," the 80-year-old says.

"We had such a big gathering underneath that fig.

"We would all go there after church and talk, and play games.

"We had nothing in those days and if we didn't have any money, we'd all get through and do things for each other."

The number of mobs, who most had come into the city at a time for work, lived down house to house on Getrude Street that lined up to Carlton Gardens, while their church that was named in honour of Nicholls was around one of the corners on Gore Street.

Looking at the Moreton Bay figs on polyester is nearly as pleasing to not just the eye but to her heartstrings decades on.

The artistic design came from Whadjuk Noongar/Badimia woman Courtney Hodder, who will be backing up in Brisbane's AFLW campaign this week.

"I think it's wonderful to include those Moreton Bay fig trees into the design like that – that's very good thinking of her," Pedersen said.

"I really like it, I really do.

"Those trees really stand out, though you'd almost think they could be witches there.

"But really, I'm so proud of that."

Hodder's also incorporated her Indigenous totem, the turtle, as well as the totems of proud teammates, Ghungalu woman Ally Anderson and Gunditjmara woman Dakota Davidson along the bottom of the guernsey.

Brisbane has in a number of ways tried to remember the 113-year heritage of Fitzroy before the merger, but especially to pay homage to Nicholls.

The family was ecstatic with the idea of growing from the very fig whose true spirit to his Aboriginal community lied away from his dashing runs and accurate punts on the football field.

While the first person the club administration considered to name its function room after was Sir Doug Nicholls.

"I like to go there to see some games in person, more so than watching it on the telly," Pederson says.

"Not I don't mind the TV that much, but with the girls, I just would like to be there and cheer them on, especially because they're so good and they've trained for such a long time to now get the game to starting picking up."

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