• Baykali Ganambarr (left) and William Gumbula from Yolngu Radio will broadcast Saturday night's Dreamtime at the G game. Image: Jono Searle (AFL Photos) (Jono Searle (AFL Photos))Source: Jono Searle (AFL Photos)
A week after calling the local grand final in the island community of Galiwin'ku, two broadcasters will commentate the match between Richmond and Essendon in their native tongue, Yolngu Matha.
Guy McLean

20 May 2022 - 8:30 AM  UPDATED 20 May 2022 - 8:30 AM

Football fans from across Arnhem Land are sure to be tuned into the AFL's Dreamtime at the G match between Richmond and Essendon on Saturday night to hear the game called in Yolŋu Matha.

Yolŋu Radio broadcasters Baykali Ganambarr, 27, and William Gumbula, 30, have travelled to Melbourne for the annual Indigenous showcase game and highlight of Sir Doug Nicolls round.

It will be the third time the Arnhem Land commentary team has called an AFL game - they called last year's Dreamtime in Perth and also a final between Brisbane and Gold Coast.

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But Baykali said commentating Dreamtime at the G would be something else altogether. 

"I feel really, really excited and a bit nervous.  It’s a big thing coming down from Arnhem Land to the city speak in my language, Yolŋu Matha, on the big stadium," he said.

"It’s just such an honour and privilege to represent my people and my language."

Documenting the journey

Baykali Ganambarr grew up on Elcho Island, North-East Arnhem Land.

He's a passionate Hawthorn supporter and plays football for St Mary’s on Elcho Island and started his entertainment career with the Djuki Mala (Djuki meaning ‘bird’ with a Yolŋu accent and Mala meaning ‘mob’) performing a high-energy and stunning fusion of traditional Indigenous culture, contemporary dance and storytelling. 

William is also from Elcho Island but now resides at Ski Beach- a community located just outside of Nhulunbuy. Will is a mad Brisbane Lions fan and has been known to put strapping tape under his knee like his hero Jonathan Brown, despite him never having knee issues.

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Remarkably, just a few days ago, the pair were commentating the Elcho Island grand final at Galiwin'ku, more than 3000 kilometres from the MCG.

Yolngu Radio has had a film crew tracking the commentary team, as they travelled from Arnhem Land to the home of football. The documentary is set to screen on AFL On Demand and is sure to be a source of pride for both Yolngu commentators. 

"To show everyone in this doco how we’re going from a remote community to the city is just amazing and an amazing journey that me and William and the Yolngu Radio mob are on. I just can’t wait to watch the doco," Baykali said.

AFL proud of partnership

AFL Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch said the Yolŋu Radio broadcast was another great opportunity to strengthen the longstanding connection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Australian Football. 

“The AFL is proud to welcome back Yolŋu Radio this season and be part of the celebrations of Sir Doug Nicholls Round. Their work, along with the National Indigenous Radio Service, is an important initiative in ensuring that our game remains accessible for all people,” Ms Hosch said.
“Having AFL matches broadcast in traditional Yolŋu Matha language is a special occasion for Yolngu communities and a privilege for the game, so I’d like to extend my thanks to Telstra for their support in making Yolngu Radio’s broadcast possible.”

Baykali and William will be back at it the following weekend. The pair are set to call the game between Gold Coast Suns and Hawthorn from Marrara Stadium - the first time a game in Darwin has been broadcast in Yolŋu Matha.

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