With the AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round little more than a month away, two of the league’s big birds have revealed the jumpers they’ll be wearing this year.
West Coast’s 2017 guernsey is similar to the past few seasons, although this year blue is the prominent colour.
The jumper was designed by Noongar artist Peter Farmer and tells the story of the waalitj (wedge-tailed eagle), which is the strongest totem in Noongar culture.
Eagles forward Josh Hill says it’s always a memorable moment to run out during Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round wearing the Indigenous jumper.
“Always very proud to wear it. Especially every year you’ve got Indigenous round as a once-off thing during the season,” Hill told NITV.
“Very humbled and privileged to wear the jumper on that special occasion.
“Personally it’s just good to get out there and perform for your culture and the tribes that you represent and your family at home that will be watching.
“It’s just good to be able to represent them as much as your culture.”
AFL players have been standing together after some recent acts of racism by fans towards players in the competition.
“It’s a fantastic round, I enjoy playing in it. Just to represent my culture, my family, the brothers we have on the footy team and I always get up for playing Indigenous Round."
Hill says racism should be a thing of the past and something to put behind us.
“We’re all out there just performing and enjoying the sport we love playing and we don’t want to be dealing with that anymore,” he said.
“We’re out there just to perform and play the game we love and hopefully put on a show for the fans and just put something like that behind us and move on.”
Adelaide Crows have also unveiled their 2017 Indigenous jumper, which will be worn at home against Fremantle on Saturday May 27.
Designed by accomplished Indigenous South Australian artist Allan Sumner, a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Yankunytjatjara people, in collaboration with local Aboriginal business Ochre Dawn Creative Industries, Adelaide’s navy blue guernsey prominently displays the symbols of the warrior preparing for battle.
The title of the design is Kuwa Irrapina Tuwila nakurri-apinga, which means ‘Awaken the Crow Warrior Spirit’.
Adelaide forward Eddie Betts said he’s a big fan of the 2017 jumper.
“Allan Sumner’s done a great job with it. It’s fantastic and when you hear the story it speaks proudly about the Indigenous culture, where it comes from,” Betts said.
“Tune into Indigenous Round because you could learn a lot just in that week.
“It’s a fantastic round, I enjoy playing in it. Just to represent my culture, my family, the brothers we have on the footy team and I always get up for playing Indigenous Round.
“The last two years in Indigenous Round I’ve kicked goal of the year at Adelaide Oval in the pocket so if I’m ever in that pocket, boys, pass me the ball,” Betts joked.
West Coast’s Hill grew up in Perth as a Crows supporter.
But the former Western Bulldog says the Eagles were always close to his heart, as his cousin Ashley Sampi was playing for West Coast.
“It was good to watch him as a kid, to have something to strive for and hopefully be able to do one day,” Hill said of Sampi’s influence.
“He keeps talking about his (2004 mark of the year against Melbourne) all the time and saying that I’ll never be able to beat that, which is probably true.”
On Sunday at the MCG against Hawthorn, Hill will play his 100th game for West Coast.
He says while he’s treating it much like every other game, it’s a nice milestone along the journey of his AFL career.
“It’s a personal occasion for me to reach that goal and hopefully don’t stop there and just keep looking to improve every week and just go out there and focus and hopefully get another win on the board.”