• Kim Farmer, daughter of the late Graham "Polly" Farmer speaks at his State Funeral at Optus Stadium in Perth. (AAP)Source: AAP
The great Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer not only revolutionised the way Australian Rules is played but also paved the way for other Indigenous players in the game.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
26 Aug 2019 - 5:06 PM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2019 - 5:06 PM

He was labelled the greatest-ever ruckman in AFL history, a trailblazer, a captain, a footy legend, a husband, a father, and a grandfather.

Today Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer’s friends, family, and fans farewelled the Noongar man at his state funeral held at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

Mr Farmer's three grandchildren lead the procession into the service, followed by many of his former teammates.

Tributes flowed as the West Australian Premier, the State Aboriginal Affairs Minister, the co-founder of his not-for-profit organisation, former teammates, and children all took the stage to remember the great man.

Daughter, Kim Farmer, remembered the look of love fans had in their eyes when they met her father, who she said she knew from a young age was a special figure.

Mr Farmer’s son, Dean, told the service that his father "never took himself too seriously" and never had "a bad word about anyone."

Legacy of a Great 

Mr Farmer’s road into AFL began at the East Perth’s Royals WAFL club, it was during this time he realised football would be his opportunity to become successful.

In 1962, Mr Farmer was signed to the Geelong Football Club. The following year he won the club's best and fairest. 

Mr Farmer played over a hundred games for the Geelong Football Club, during a time in Australia when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders weren’t even counted in the country’s population, but that didn’t matter to the AFL industry who took Farmer in.

Among his achievements Mr Farmer was inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame as well as the inaugural Australian Football Hall of Fame, and also was the first ever Australian footballer to receive a Queen’s honour. 

During the service, many spoke about Mr Farmer’s passion for education and equal education for Indigenous students. His son Dean recalled that his dad believed the opportunity to have an education was something everyone should have available to them.

In 1994, Mr Farmer established his Follow the Dream foundation, a program to help Indigenous students succeed in school.  

The program , which runs throughout most of Western Australia, helps high school and primary school students to succeed in their academic and sporting careers.

Co-founder Fred Chaney said MrFarmer had wanted to establish the foundation not for self-interest but for future generations. 

“Polly was our patron, he put his trust in us to realise his vision. We quickly realised Polly’s ambition was through education,” Mr Chaney said. 

Ngarluma woman and Follow the Dream alumni, Jolleen Hicks thanked Mr Farmer for the establishment of Follow the Dream in her hometown of Roebourne in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

“Not only was he a footballer hero with a skill set of no other, before or after him, but he also had a vision for young Aboriginal people to have the access to the benefits of education so that we would have the opportunity to access the Australian Dream,” she said.

“This vision involved education.”

To date, the Follow the Dream foundation has helped over 1200 students graduate, including Ms Hicks who has a law degree and a successful business as an Aboriginal engagement officer. 

Mr Farmer’s family said the former football legend had been sick for some time. In 1999, Mr Farmer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but continued to accomplish many of the things most dear to him for the next decade.

Mr Farmer died, aged 84, at Perth’s Fioana Stanely Hospital on August 14.

He is survived by his children Dean, Kim, and Brett.

RELATED
'The greatest of all the big men': AFL legend Polly Farmer dies aged 84
Australia has lost one of its finest sportsmen with the passing of Australian Rules football legend Graham "Polly" Farmer.
'Dad was especially lucky to be welcomed and accepted into football': Polly Farmer's daughter reflects on her father's groundbreaking career
Kim Farmer, daughter of football legend Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, speaks about her father’s outstanding career achievements.