• Yokayi Footy mural, designed by Gomeroi artist, Jeremy Worrall (NITV)
A Noongar victory cry, NITV's new show Yokayi Footy promises to live up to its name, bringing the energy of celebration to our screens.
By
Emily Nicol

5 Mar 2020 - 7:41 PM  UPDATED 9 Mar 2020 - 9:48 AM

Few people can say they love what they do, but Executive Producer of new show Yokayi Footy and Noongar multi-disciplinary artist, Karla Hart is one such woman.

From a young age, Hart had a passion for entertainment television. But more recently, she's had the opportunity to combine her skills with her love of culture, language and (like so many on the West Coast do) — football.  

"I've deliberately set out to create programs that I feel would appeal to everyone," Hart tells NITV.  "I'm a small-town country girl, but the opportunity to create a show from concept form and to be in partnership with the AFL is great.

"I love football. I've grown up with football culture."

Yokayi Footy is set to be a fun and insightful look at football and Indigenous culture through analysis, humour and debate.

Hosted by former Adelaide, Sydney and Collingwood player Tony Armstrong, AFLW advocate and youth pioneer Bianca Hunt, and former triple premiership Brisbane Lions and Indigenous All Stars player Darryl White, Yokayi will bring something new to the traditional footy panel space.

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Filmed on Country and also from studio in Melbourne, Yokayi Footy will explore the grassroots efforts of players around the nation and share stories from their communities.

"With insightful monologues,  our unique sense of humour, sassiness, style and having three Indigenous hosts, we do have a unique flavour to things," Hart explains. "This is the next level I feel for entertainment, for NITV, for our Australian community as a whole."

 "This is the next level I feel for entertainment, for NITV, for our Australian community as a whole."

In consultation with her community, one of the most important things for Hart to decide from the get-go was the name of the new show.

 

With a strong grounding in her own language and having worked with language most of her life and career, Hart says bringing this element to the show was very important.

"'Yokayi' is a Noongar word that can be thought of in several ways.

I want everyone to be able to share and celebrate this word and I'm so happy that I have community support from my Noongar community [to use it]. 

One of the things it's used as is a cry of celebration, a cry of victory, a shout of victory — It's also a feeling." 

Many in the Noongar community have shared their insights into what this popular word Yokayi (pronounced 'yok-eye') means to them and how they feel, having a word from their own language used for national television.

Noongar man, Barry McGuire says the use of the word is a great way to share and teach other Australians language that celebrates spiritual and physical strength and had been used for thousands of years. 

"Yokayi is an energy of spiritual strength that builds up from within and it is released once victory is reached," he explains.

"The energy is an ancient connection to all of our ancestors who have stood in it. The policies of the past have stopped the life of this word and since we have survived within our language as a community, here is one of many reasons to shout it out again, we can live in the vibrations of yokayi again!"

21-year-old, Derek Nannup Jnr says that for him, the word yokai and its relationship to footy is inevitable.

"For me, they go hand-in-hand and just like our traditional lifestyle, footy can bring mob together," Nannup Jnr says. "There’s been many events on the AFL stage that represent yokayi; one that has been making numerous headlines over the past years is Adam Goodes and the war cry. It showed resilience, strength and being victorious, all-in-all it showed the spirit of being yokayi."

Carole Innes, respected Noongar elder says that language is endangered and giving it leverage on a national platform is exciting.

"Bringing this back to a national platform to promote our resurgence for us is awesome!," she told NITV "It would be a natural progression and one to be celebrated. It is also giving Noongar people a stronger connection as we have a large number of AFL players in the competition."

Eugene Eades also says that it's timely to have this strong word used in such a context on a big platform.

"As a Noongar elder in the community, I have lived through many, many transitions and witnessed so much disconnection from Country, as a result of things we had no control over.

But over the last six years I’m witnessing a revival, a coming back, a reconnection to language, heritage, Dreamtime and culture and it is a joy to hear language spoken."

Hart echoes all of these sentiments and is hopeful that this show will bring a new perspective for footy loving Australians.

"It's a fresh look at sport in Australia through our lens," she says.

"You know we're always watching shows where they're talking about our mob. They're experts on our mob without any of our mob being present.

There are panels of non-Indigenous people talking about Blackfellas and that's so frustrating. So here's a chance wherein football we are overrepresented in terms of the amount of our players that play AFL compared to our percentage of the population.

I just feel like we owe it to our, to our families and our grandparents to, to celebrate what once was and it's up to us to make things strong again."

 

Catch Yokayi Footy from Wednesday, 18 March at 8pm on NITV.

Fridays at 3pm on SBS Viceland

Catch up on SBS On Demand after broadcast

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