• Melbourne Demon's RAP Northern Territory (Melbourne FC)Source: Melbourne FC
On Thursday night’s episode of the Marngrook Footy Show, the all-star panel explored some of the work the Melbourne Football club is doing in the community through its Reconciliation Action Plan and playing AFL games in the Northern Territory.
By
Will Davies

Source:
The Marngrook Footy Show
21 Jul 2017 - 11:12 AM  UPDATED 21 Jul 2017 - 11:12 AM

The Marngrook Footy Show had a bit of a Melbourne Demons flavour about it on Thursday night as the panel explored the work the Melbourne Football Club is doing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Hosted by Grant Hansen and Gilbert McAdam and screened live on NITV on Thursday night, Marngrook welcomed Demons defender Neville Jetta and forward Christian Petracca on to the all-star panel.

Former St Kilda and Brisbane Bears player McAdam was quick to praise the work the Demons have been doing in playing AFL games in the Northern Territory and reaching out to the Indigenous community.

“I’ve seen some former players in the great Liam Jurrah, Austin Wonaeamirri, Shannon Motlop and a few of the boys and I was so excited that Melbourne has got an Academy getting started in Alice Springs and Darwin,” McAdam said.

“Me as a former Indigenous player to see that, and I know what Liam went through and how hard it was for him and Austin - well done to the Melbourne Footy club.”

Petracca said it is a rewarding process to be a part of, as he reflected on Melbourne’s Reconciliation Action Plan and bridging the gap between Indigenous communities and other communities in Australia.

“What I got out of it personally, it was just amazing to see the former players in Wonaeamirri and Jurrah and Davey’s talk about their experience at the club and how footy affects their culture,” Petracca said.

“It’s an amazing feeling, you definitely feel like you’re back in country footy and the connection that you have with people is a lot greater and you just sense the feeling that everyone loves footy and the impact that footy has on these people, it’s really life changing.”

“For example Wonaeamirri talks about Tiwi Islands and how he stared the footy club up there and spoke about how footy is so important in their life and minimising suicide rates up there and it really hit home.”

“And did you have a taste of a bit of crocodile, was it nice?,” McAdam asked.

“Yeah, had my first time tasting crocodile. It was quite nice. A bit like chicken,” Petracca said with a grin.

It came off the back of regular panellist Leila Gurruwiwi asking Jetta about the experience of playing home games in the NT, including against Adelaide in Darwin last weekend.

“We play in Darwin, we also play in Alice, so we played our Indigenous Round there,” Jetta said.

“It’s an amazing feeling, you definitely feel like you’re back in country footy and the connection that you have with people is a lot greater and you just sense the feeling that everyone loves footy and the impact that footy has on these people, it’s really life changing.”

Jetta, a member of the AFL Players’ Association’s Indigenous Advisory Board, added that the work being done by some clubs with their Reconciliation Action Plans is another big step in the right direction.

“A lot of AFL clubs are now taking this on board,” he said.

“It’s about creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the community and find ways to bridge the gap, like Christian said before.

“And I think one of the things we’ve done already is get an Aboriginal liaison officer into the footy club, a past player Matthew Whelan, so finding the affects from that is as an Indigenous sort of leader in the footy club, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about certain stuff and how best to go about that sort of stuff.

“And now I’m able to just say ‘Oh Mathew’s there, you can go and talk to him and he’ll give you the answers’, and I’m able to concentrate on footy.

“But the community is probably the main thing. We’ve got a footy program in Alice now and Dandenong as well, so to really reach out and get into the community culturally will really be important and really get the players on board.”

Thursday’s Marngrook Footy Show also welcomed guest panellists St Kilda’s Koby Stevens, former Collingwood legend Tony Shaw, ex-Richmond great Dale ‘Flea’ Weightman, Shelley Ware and Rohan Connolly.

Connolly, as always, brought a huge amount of football news, his regular segment ‘Rounds of Our Lives’, and he also provided a significant incentive for Western Bulldogs to beat Gold Coast this weekend.

“I’m so confident the Doggies are going to win, that if they don’t, I will do a lap of the studio in my underpants,” Connolly said.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be subjected to that so go Bulldogs.”

In true fashion, McAdam was happy to tip the underdogs.

“Well I’m going for Gold Coast, just so I can see Rohan in the Gold Coast, whatever they call them, Budgie Smugglers,” McAdam responded.

For more football news and to be a part of the conversation, head to The Marngrook Footy Show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or watch Thursday’s episode in full via the SBS on demand catch up service.