Special day recognises Indigenous contribution to AFL
THE AFL Indigenous round was celebrated across the country but Sawtell/Toormina's juniors put on a great show at Richardson Park.
The day has become a real focal point of the Saints juniors home and away season and Sunday showed the day has gone from strength to strength in terms of the emphasis placed on these celebrations.
On Sunday the club had Indigneous themed jumpers for all teams, Indigenous themed polo shirts for all players and supporters and staged a ceremony involving a welcome to country by Uncle Barry Hoskins, an acknowledgment of country in the Gumbaynggirr language by Tyler Donovan and traditional dancing led by Troy Robinson.
Bellingen Bulldogs also joined in the celebrations with a ceremony before the under-13 and under-15.5 games against Macleay Valley.
Local Indigenous man Bernard welcomed all to the area and told his story of having family links to both the Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti nations which represents the lands that Bellingen and Macleay Valley clubs are based upon.
The AFL North Coast's football operations co-ordinator Paul Taylor said both events were a credit to the organisers and the clubs.
"The Indigenous Round celebrations at both Sawtell and Bellingen were really respectful and appropriate,” Taylor said.
"The Indigenous families associated with each club really appreciated the acknowledgment and the Indigenous kids responded brilliantly by playing the house down.
"I have no doubt that Indigenous Round celebrations will continue to grow across the North Coast in the coming years."
The weekend's matches marked the 11th year the AFL has celebrated Indigenous Round in and this year it coincided with two historical, momentous occasions. Saturday was the 50 year anniversary of the 1967 referendum and 2017 also marks 25 years since the Mabo decision.