AFLW teams to celebrate inaugural Indigenous Round

The AFLW will celebrate its first-ever league-wide Indigenous Round this weekend,

paying tribute to the contribution of First Nations people to the game and society more broadly.

The AFL’s head of women’s footy, Nicole Livingstone, said the dedicated round signalled the growth and development of the women’s league.

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“We’ve had some games previously where teams have celebrated that contribution, but to have a full round for the first time, shows that maturity and development of the league,” she said.

“It is important for us as a league to make sure we can influence change in society … we think it’s important to represent the voices and the stories of indigenous women.”

As part of the dedicated round, all AFLW clubs will wear specially designed Indigenous Round guernseys, while AFL umpires will wear the 2020 Sir Doug Nicholls Round designed umpire uniform, which represents both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

And on every playing surface this weekend will be painted specialist artwork: on one side of the centre circle will be the names of the Traditional owners of the land on which the game is being played and on the other side, will be the traditional Aboriginal art symbol for woman painted in a coral colour.

The symbol sees two lines drawn either side of a cave-shaped semicircle.

Livingstone said the artwork was hugely symbolic.

“It’s really important for us to facilitate hearing the voices of women … it’s something that we’re really proud of and for this round in particular, it’s about us saying: ‘We are here, this is us’ and that indigenous art symbol represents that.”

Livingstone said a working group had been established to help determine how to best celebrate the first Indigenous Round and it included “very rich” conversations with First Nations across the clubs.

“We wanted to understand what their wishes were around representing them in the league that they play in,” she said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played a significant role in the development of our sport for many years, so we’re delighted that we’re able to recognise their contribution to our game in the first dedicated round this weekend.”

The Indigenous Round will kick off with a Friday night clash between Geelong and Richmond at GMHBA Stadium and conclude over in the West when the Eagles take on Gold Coast.

PIES SUPPORT ‘FREE THE FLAG’ PUSH

Collingwood’s women’s team has thrown its support behind the movement to free the Aboriginal flag from copyright restrictions and will wear Free the Flag T-shirts in pre-game warm ups for the rest of their AFLW campaign.

Players wore the special Free the Flag shirts during their pre-game warm-up on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium before defeating North Melbourne convincingly by 20 points.

In a statement, the club said: “Collingwood believes the Aboriginal flag should continue to play a unifying role with people and communities right across Australia.

“As such, the club supports the Free the Flag campaign.

“The Aboriginal flag is a national symbol and a central part of First People’s national identity.

“It was proclaimed as a National Flag of Australia in 1995 and should be free of licensing restrictions that currently limit its use.

“Collingwood’s AFLW program will show their support for the Free the Flag campaign as the club’s AFL and netball programs did in 2020.”

Both Brisbane and the Gold Coast have also announced their support for the campaign.

A Suns spokesman confirmed the club had worn the tops twice already this season and that the playing group would wear the shirts at their captain’s runs moving forward.

Other AFLW clubs are expected to announce over the coming days that they will also wear the Free the Flag shirts with the league celebrating its inaugural indigenous Round this weekend.

Proud Aboriginal woman and Collingwood forward Aliesha Newman said she was pleased the club was supportive of the Free the Flag movement.

“I grew up with the flag and it’s a very big part of my identity, so not having the opportunity to display that in the way that I would like is really disappointing and hopefully by wearing these tops we can spark a conversation to be able to get those laws changed,” she said.

“And the girls looked really good in the T-shirts.”

Newman said she was looking forward to the weekend’s league-wide indigenous Round.

“To be able to showcase our culture is something I will be extremely proud of walking out on the ground on the weekend.”

The unbeaten Collingwood will play Melbourne at Victoria Park on Sunday.

Collingwood’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs manager Debby Lovett echoed Newman’s words.

“Collingwood, through its AFL and netball programs, has been behind the campaign for some time now and it is a cause the AFLW program wants to share in,” Lovett said.

“We hope this momentum takes us closer to freeing the Aboriginal flag and returning it to its people.”

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