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Sports move against Australia Day, call for date change

Scott Bailey -

The nation's major sporting codes have unanimously stopped referring to 'Australia Day' as the AFL Players Association, several clubs and the country's hockey teams called for the date to change.

Days after Cricket Australia came under fire from some quarters for not referencing Australia Day in marketing around the Gabba Test, almost all sports presented a united front on Friday.

None of the major codes or teams from within them referenced Australia Day in any post on social media, a far cry from as recently as five years ago.

Instead, many sports and teams used their social media accounts to recognise January 26 as a "painful and sorrowful day" for Indigenous people.

AFL players were particularly strong on the matter, with their association declaring January 26 was "not a day to celebrate".

"January 26 represents the beginning of colonisation, dispossession of land, the Stolen Generations and continual marginalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," The AFLPA wrote in a post.

"We hope one day our leaders can come together, listen, learn and find the right date that we can all celebrate together."

The statement come after Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs were unequivocal in their push for a date change on Thursday evening, with North Melbourne echoing those sentiments on Friday.

"We encourage listening, understanding and reflection of our Nation's shared past," the Kangaroos said in a statement on Friday.

NRL clubs remained quieter on the issue, with no 'Australia Day' posts but only South Sydney acknowledging January 26 and its history for Indigenous people.

The NRL acknowledged "today represents a painful and sorrowful day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples".

Football Australia, the NBL and multiple Super Netball clubs took a similar stance.

The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos went one step further, with the Paris gold-medal hopefuls calling for a move away from January 26.

"We are all proud to be Australians, however we do not see January 26 as a day of celebration," the sides said in a joint statement supported by Hockey Australia.

"Today, the current Hockeyroo and Kookaburra athletes support our sisters Mariah Williams, a proud Wiradjuri woman, and Brooke Peris, a proud Yawuru woman, and stand in solidarity with all First Nations people.

"Be mindful and have empathy. We can celebrate what it means to be Australian on another day."

Rugby Australia, its clubs and the Supercars did not post at all in regards to January 26.

Cricket's position in the headlines in the middle of summer has often left the sport as the on-field face of the issue.

Cricket Australia stopped using 'Australia Day' in their marketing in 2021, when some BBL clubs began wearing Indigenous-inspired strips while playing on January 26.

That position has largely been backed by cricket's playing group, headlined by Pat Cummins and Steve Smith who this week called for the date to be changed.

Scott Bailey - AAP

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