The inaugural National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors First Nations Round is set to kick off this weekend as Australia celebrates NAIDOC Week from July 2-9.
SANFL Juniors clubs – who have a total of 493 First Nations players across the competition – will embrace the historic occasion, including the Flinders Park Football Club which will wear a unique guernsey designed by Tatum McLean.
Tatum, a First Nations player for Flinders Park’s U17.5 girls team, approached the club’s junior director to ask why the club didn’t have a First Nations guernsey for the juniors.
He agreed it was a great idea and asked her to produce a design to wear in Round 11.
“I designed it on paper and then I saw it on the computer, and now to see it in material, it’s really special to me and I know it would be special to other Indigenous players who are in their younger years,” Tatum said.
“It was really my mum who encouraged me to ask because I’d had a friend who did the same for Edwardstown (Football Club) a couple of years ago. My family are really proud of me.”
Tatum explained there are three chief aspects behind her design – the lower waist, middle and top of guernsey.
”The lower waist represents our club and community being a place to come together as one,” Tatum said.
”As well as other teams and clubs coming to us when we host our home games or events, and feeling welcomed, with
a sense of belonging while we host.
”The middle design represents the children and young people (represented as a small circle) who play at the club, as well as the parents and carers who help us come together (represented by one line and inverted U for a man, with two lines and inverted U for a woman).
”The circles that form the outer circle represent all of the clubs in each division. The blue outline, which is the main feature of the design, symbolises the river and ocean, as they are very close to our club, which additionally signifies being connected and respecting country.
”The top of the guernsey symbolises each player carrying our Indigenous and non-indigenous players on our shoulders, lifting them up and feeling connected.”
Excited to don her specially-designed guernsey this weekend, Tatum hoped that it would act as an important connection to her club’s First Nations community.
”Hopefully every player who wears this guernsey will remember these points every time they put it on,” Tatum said.
”Not only is it important that we respect our community, it’s important to embrace, share and connect with our
land and culture.”
National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors Competition Manager Oliver Graham said each club had been provided with an information sheet to share with players and families to educate them about First Nations Round.
The story of Eddie Mabo and the place it holds in First Nations History is featured on the education sheet as well as showcasing the guernsey designed by Tatum for Flinders Park and providing clubs with ideas to enhance the game-day experience such as painting a football, exchanging gifts or line-marking opportunities
”It is important to introduce First Nations Round to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution which First Nations players, coaches and volunteers have made, and continue to make, to our game,” Mr Graham said.
”The round has been scheduled to align with the start of NAIDOC week to further support the education which is being provided to our players within schools.”
Fellow SANFL Juniors clubs Gepps Cross and Kilburn have also developed specially-designed First Nations Round guernseys, with North Adelaide premiership forward Robbie Young designing the Gepps Cross jumper.
The Rams have also formed a relationship with the Wiltja Boarding School, which has paved the way for First Nations students from remote communities playing at the club in various age groups.
In another heart-warming initiative, Golden Grove Football Club has donated some of its guernseys to the Pipalyatjara Football Club to wear in the State’s far north.
Pictured below, the Kookaburra’s colours are being proudly sported on the red dirt weekly in SANFL’s APY Lands competition.
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