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Indigenous stars leaving a legacy

Shaun Burgoyne, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, Paddy Ryder, Chad Wingard, Mathew Stokes, Michael Johnson, Brett and Adam Goodes.

Together they’ve kicked more than 1,800 goals in 1,500 AFL games. They’ve won 12 All-Australian selections, nine premiership medallions, three Colemans and two Brownlows.

And while this group of eight is still adding to that long list of accolades, each player is also aware of the legacy they can leave behind.

Together, they make up the AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board.

“It’s something special,” Burgoyne said at January’s Indigenous Camp.

“The players, from the [2013 Indigenous] Camp at Alice Springs wanted to have a voice, and from that we elected an Indigenous Advisory Board.”

Headed by chairman Adam Goodes, the Board seeks to give Indigenous players a meaningful collective voice within the AFL industry and aims to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players during and after their footy careers.

While the Advisory Board speaks via conference calls throughout each season, Goodes says there’s no comparison to meeting in person – something that generally only happens on the biennial Indigenous Camps.

“Our agenda’s really set by the camps, and what the players want us to push for.”

The Advisory Board is still somewhat in its infancy, but Goodes is encouraged by what he sees in the next generation of Indigenous AFL stars.

“I’m really impressed by the first and second-year players, and the pathways that they’re coming from,” he said.

“I’m really proud that these kids are going to have the best opportunity to play 100 games, 200 games, hopefully some of them play 300 games. That’s what you want, because they’re going to be role models for a really long time if they do that.”

“It’s a big responsibility – something I don’t take lightly” – Chad Wingard on his role on the Advisory Board

Indigenous Advisory board key priorities

As a result of discussions held at the 2015 Indigenous Camp, the Indigenous Advisory Board settled on four key priorities for the coming years.

1. All AFL clubs to have a Reconciliation Action Plan, or be in the process of developing one, by 2016.

Click here to view the AFL Players’ Association’s Reconciliation Action Plan

2. All club/playing group to have completed Cultural Awareness Training within 24 months.

3. Each AFL club to have appointed an Indigenous Officer within three to five years.

4. Players to spend more time visiting Indigenous communities, as part of the time blocked out by their clubs for public appearances.