Some of footy’s biggest names, including Adam Goodes, Cyril Rioli, Chad Wingard and Shaun Burgoyne, are among more than 60 Indigenous players in Perth for the AFL Players’ Indigenous Camp this week.
The camp, which is held biennially, is a chance for Indigenous players to connect with their culture and each other, while discussing and working through some of the biggest issues facing Indigenous players in the AFL.
“it’s important to learn from those past players and pioneers that have formed the game for us” – Michael Johnson
On day one, the group headed to King’s Park for a Welcome to Country ceremony, before sitting in on an Australian history session led by Dr. Sean Gorman – a Research Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies, Curtin University – and Fremantle defender Michael Johnson.
The presentation focused on the stories of Indigenous people who shaped the game and influenced change in Australian culture. Players sat transfixed as they learnt about the Krakouer brothers, Michael Long, Nicky Winmar and Sir Doug Nicholls, who all overcame adversity in order to leave their mark on the AFL.
Speaking to aflplayers.com.au after his presentation, Johnson said “it’s important to learn from those past players and pioneers that have formed the game for us current players, to deliver the history of Indigenous people and Indigenous AFL players.
“Hopefully the players, as well as the PA and club employees, took something out of it.”
— AFL Players (@AFLPlayers) February 15, 2015
Other sessions to take place throughout the week will focus on leadership, financial literacy, industry priorities and cultural activities. AFL Players’ General Manager of Player Development, Brett Johnson says the camp plays an integral role in shaping the approach clubs and the Players’ Association seek to support Indigenous footballers.
“We see this camp as an important way to give our voice to the development of programs and support services provided to Indigenous players.
“It’s also an opportunity for our players to connect back to culture, and contributes to our overall goal of continuing to make the AFL a supportive workplace for Indigenous players in the future.”
— AFL Players (@AFLPlayers) February 16, 2015