Jobs Events Advertise

Footy is back and so is Yokayi: Host Megan Waters talks about the show in 2023

Jarred Cross -

After two seasons hosting Yokayi Footy, Warumungu/Yawuru woman Megan Waters truly believes the show is something special.

She says it's unique in providing the platform to mob in a way rarely seen in sport, unique in addressing the tough issues and, for her, unique in giving her a voice as an Indigenous woman in an industry which has largely "always been white…always been male".

Yokayi returns on the eve of the AFL season Wednesday night.

Since taking over from the axed Mangrook Footy Show in 2020 it's strengthened its following presenting the game so loved by so many from a cultural perspective so linked with the success and romance of Aussie rules; First Nations Australia.

In 2023 Yokayi can be seen on free-to-air services NITV as well as on the AFL website, Fox Footy, and Kayo streaming.

Compared with previous years, Ms Walters said viewers can look forward to fresh segments and an added flare thanks to incoming executive producer - playwright, actor and screenwriter, Tony Briggs.

Megan Waters returns to Yokayi Footy in 2023. Image provided

Even with slight adjustments the ethos of Yokayi remains.

Ms Waters said it's "an honour" to host a show giving greater voice to mob in and around the game.

"This platform that's been created as a space for us to use our voices and to educate...Yokayi, for me, it's not just a position that I just rock up to...this is my job," she said.

"I get to go to the studio once a week and record a show, (but) for me, it's so much more than that. It's almost a little bit like a responsibility...because we cover things that sometimes aren't always the easiest thing to hear. We talk about real stuff that effects mob like racism and inequality and the things that you're not really hearing on other football show.

"So it's not a responsibility that I take lightly or for granted.

"I've had so many conversations with people off the back of the last couple of seasons, friends, random people that I've met that have literally I had one lady recently cry to me, and she said, you know, thank you, to me and the boys Andy and Gilly and Daryl, (co-hosts, panel members and former AFL players Andrew Krakouer, Gilbert McAdam and Darryl White) for coming on this show every week.

When explosive allegations against Hawthorn regarding their treatment of Indigenous players broke in grand final week last year, Yokayi's final show for 2022 quickly shifted its agenda.

Ms Waters and panel were looking forward to a fun finale but couldn't shirk the responsibility of addressing an issue at the core of their purpose just 24 hours after the concerning claims surfaced.

"I really pay attention to the things that we have to deliver and the things that we have to go on and talk about," she said.

"It's not just like a case of just going in and having a conversation. It's (about) how do we have a conversation that we know is actually going to make people listen?

"We make such a small percentage of the population, we're still always fighting to have our voices heard. That's why it's just so important that we have shows like this."

"There was so much to look forward to, but then it was like bang…that feeling of excitement (for the finale) is wiped (away) because you know you have to come on and talk about the pain that is associated with these issues that keep arising, unfortunately."

Canvassing the place of First Nations people and players in footy, Ms Waters believes while issues and a lack of cultural understand remains in parts of the industry, steps in the right direction have been taken - including the introduction of Indigenous liaison officers and managers at clubs, education, the championing of Dreamtime at the 'G (during Sir Doug Nicholls round) and the return of an Indigenous All Stars game flagged by the AFL.

She said Yokayi will continue bringing in young Indigenous footballers to share their stories, understand their mob, country and songlines and empower First Nations footy.

Yokayi Footy returns at 8:30pm on Wednesday, March 15.

   Related Articles   

   More by Jarred Cross