The Indigenous rounds across the world of sport have come to an end after Reconciliation Week wrapped up on Thursday, with most rounds falling near or on the May 27 – June 3 dates.
There were highs and lows across the leagues, from guernsey clash drama to spectacular displays of sporting prowess and entertainment.
Read on for NIT’s wrap of the AFL, NBL, NRL and Super Netball Indigenous Rounds.
The Sir Doug Nicholls Round spanned both Rounds 11 and 12 with the theme Our Legacy – This is Us.
The first game kicking off the Indigenous Round started with mayhem when Melbourne were unable to wear their Indigenous guernsey against the Western Bulldogs due to an alleged clash.
Both guernseys sported blue, red and white with noticeably different designs. This led to a lot of questions on social media, especially when the Collingwood and Essendon jumpers for the ANZAC Day match had similarities but no similar action was taken.
The Dees were able to wear their jumper against the Brisbane Lions in the second week of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, where they triumphed with a 22-point win.
The Dreamtime at the G match also faced its challenges, being moved from Melbourne to Perth due to the COVID-19 situation in Victoria.
Richmond and Essendon went head to head in front of a sellout crowd, with medical sub Daniel Rioli finishing off the night with a goal in the last two minutes to make the Tigers come out on top with a 39-point win.
Six thousand people also registered to join the Long Walk across the Matagarup Bridge before the match, started by Essendon champion Michael Long who famously undertook a walk from Melbourne to Parliament House in Canberra in 2004 to put Indigenous issues back on the national agenda.
Long said he was happy for the game to be going ahead in Perth and paid tribute to Indigenous players from the west who have put in the work tackling racism both on and off the field.
“Across Australia, WA has had the highest number of Indigenous players in the AFL for the last 20 years,” Long said.
“History hasn’t always been kind but we thank our trailblazers like Uncle Syd Jackson, Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer and Nicky Winmar, and so many more.”
There was some criticism of the League’s representation of Indigenous people after a post by the Sydney Kings that promoted the Indigenous Round did not feature an Indigenous player or club representative, instead featuring Kings guard and African American man, Casper Ware Jnr.
The Kings’ jersey artist Bruce Shillingsworth Snr spoke to the team about Reconciliation and said it’s important for any players or visitors to learn and celebrate First Nations culture.
“If I travel from my Country, over to Gadigal Country — I’ve got to sit with the Gadigal people, I’ve got to learn from the Gadigal people and learn their language, learn the way they’re doing things,” Shillingsworth said.
Sydney Kings’ management defended the use of Ware in the graphic as “wholly appropriate,” explaining that it was “focused on promoting people attending an event that will pay respect and celebrate Indigenous culture”.
The NRL Indigenous Round coincided with Reconciliation Week kicking off on May 27 when the Storm got the best of the Broncos, taking the game by 28 points.
The NRL used the round for advocacy, with stars like Rabbitohs’ Cody Walker and the Knights’ Connor Watson organising initiatives for players to wear specially designed boots to auction with proceeds focusing on suicide prevention in Aboriginal communities.
“If you look at the numbers they’re quite alarming and quite scary. Thirty percent of Aboriginal deaths in kids are caused by suicide. It’s crazy to know that,” Walker said.
“It’s obviously a special week to be a part of. To celebrate some of the great things our people have done in the game. We make up three per cent of the population but make up 12 per cent of the NRL.”
All 16 teams represented in their Indigenous jerseys with players like Josh Addo-Carr, Alex Johnston and Dane Gagai being named as some of the players of the week.
The Suncorp Super Netball League held its annual Indigenous Round over Rounds 5 and 6, where all eight clubs wore their specially designed dresses and had cultural performances before the games.
Round 5 saw two games decided by just one point between the Thunderbirds and Lightning, and Fever and the GIANTS, with Fever and Lightning triumphing in the end.
Across the two weeks, Fever and the Swifts managed victories in both their games with the Swifts’ 12-goal victory against the GIANTS securing them a place on top of the ladder along with Lightning and the GIANTS all on 16 points.
By Teisha Cloos