Round 5 in the AFLW marks the first official Indigenous Round, celebrating and recognising the competition’s Indigenous women, not only those playing this weekend, but the ones who were there from the start paving the way for the younger generation coming through. It’s also a time to celebrate the strong Indigenous women in our community.
To recognise the first ever Indigenous Round in the AFLW, some of our members have shared personal stories on their heritage and background.
Ally anderson – Gangulu
“The most important thing for me is having that pride and celebrating myself and my culture, because, growing up, I never really did.
I work at a school with Indigenous kids, and I’m trying to teach them and get them curious and interested in finding out about their family.
I never used to [view myself as a role model], but definitely now I think the more that I get involved, the more that I think these kids look up to me, and it’s a heart-warming feeling. It’s important, and it makes me feel like I’m having an impact on people.
We’ve seen it (Indigenous Round) implemented in the men’s competition and I absolutely love that round.
I love all the celebrations that they get to do, and now this year it’s been officially implemented, so it’s good that we get a chance to show our culture within the AFLW as well.”
Aliesha newman – Ningy Ningy
“My Grandma took my sister and I to anything that she could. I remember dancing, doing artwork as a young kid… I’ll forever be grateful to my Grandma for introducing us to our culture.
It’s sometimes hard to put into words what it means to be Indigenous. It’s something I’m extremely proud of and anyone that knows me knows that I will do absolutely anything to help promote and educate those around me.
Machaelia Roberts was the first Indigenous woman to be drafted to Collingwood Football Club and although she never played a game, I don’t want anyone to forget what she brought to the Magpies. Being one of the few Indigenous players in the league is something I’m obviously very proud of, and I want to be a role model for the younger generations that you can do anything you put your mind to.
To play in the first AFLW indigenous round is something that is going to be a truly humbling moment. It will be something I look back on in years to come and be extremely proud of. I greatly commend the commitment my teammates have toward this round. I am proud we now have every AFLW team acknowledging our culture and wanting to learn more.”
Danielle ponter – Larrakia
“My grandfather comes from the Anmatyerre tribe, which is in the Ti Tree regions north of Alice Springs, and my grandmother is from the Maranunggu tribe, which is the Daly River region (near Katherine in the NT). Both were taken away in the Stolen Generation and were placed in a mission on the Tiwi Islands. From there, both my nan and pop were adopted by the Tiwi people. The Tiwi Islands became our home and our family.
Having the opportunity to play in Indigenous Round is incredibly important for me as well as my community because it’s not only about a game of football but it’s a round to educate my teammates and the wider AFLW community about issues facing Indigenous Australians and our culture. Sometimes these conversations are hard to start but because football provides exposure, it helps to start them.
As Australians, it is important to continue educating ourselves on Indigenous culture by having a willingness to learn and start conversations. It’s up to you to dive in and learn about it yourself.”
nat plane – Kamilaroi
“What defines me as an Indigenous person is me knowing who I am and then also being proud to be Indigenous.
For me, being lighter-skinned, there was a part of me growing up that felt I wasn’t ‘black’ enough to be Indigenous. In reality, we all look different.
But, through understanding history and what’s happened in our past, I came to see who I am and continue to have pride in who I am and my culture.
I’m on a continual learning journey and I’m proud of who I am and to share the knowledge that I have. It’s special to be Aboriginal. We’ve been around for more than 60,000 years and understanding the stories of our ancestors, their struggles, what they’ve been through and how strong and powerful we are supports the path that we walk on now.
It’s not perfect yet but if we can continue to educate ourselves and make it that little bit easier for each other, we can continue to ease the burdens of the next generation of Aboriginal people.
This weekend we’ve got a chance to showcase the women’s game and demonstrate to young Indigenous girls that you can achieve whatever you want.”
Gemma houghton – Yindjibarndi
“My Dad’s side is Indigenous from the Pilbara region in Western Australia’s north. Dad is from Port Headland and our tribe is the Yindjibarndi tribe. We have a very big family up there, but I do have some uncles and aunties living here in Perth and I also have two older sisters, one who is also here. We have got a very strong connection with the region up north.
We moved to Perth with my mum and to be honest with you, growing up I didn’t know a lot about my culture. I learnt a bit through visiting my uncles and aunties when we could, but I have learnt more about the Indigenous culture in general as I am getting older and am starting to understand it better. Especially through the club, I’ve started to understand more in the last five years about our culture and what it means to be Indigenous.
Two seasons ago we started doing our club Smoking Ceremony with Uncle Richard Walley and Aunty Colleen Hayward. Prior to that, I hadn’t done anything like that, especially in a sporting sense. Just seeing how connected we all are and the way it all brings us together to create this special bond is amazing. We are able to share those moments down at Fremantle Oval where we play and it’s incredible to just understand what that does for our community. We all might be from different cultures but it all brings us together and we are all united as one.
My Uncle Norm has a lot of knowledge regarding our history and culture and my family line, especially on my grandmother Clara Coffin and my grandfather Lenny Houghton. I’m very fortunate to be able to understand and learn more about the stuff that happened before us as children were brought into the world. He helps me every day in learning all about our history. I’ve got a book about the Yindjibarndi language (I need to give it back to him actually because I’ve had it for a very long time!) that talks about the culture and the language and learning about the history of everything that has led to who I am and the person I am today.
It’s so special to be able to play in the AFL Women’s Indigenous Round, not only for this club but to play it at Fremantle Oval in a home game. We get the opportunity to go out there, and, while we play every game with fire in our belly, it just adds a bit more of that special bond amongst the girls. To have that younger generation look up to us as leaders and to be able to represent not only our culture, but the young Indigenous kids growing up, both young boys and young girls, who one day want to represent our club or any other football club is incredible. It’s so nice to see the excitement in their faces on the day and to share that special bond that we have at the club.
To be able to run out there and on the back of our shirt have our tribe name written across it, it just means so much and I will wear that jumper with pride on the weekend.”