The AFL launched the 2017 Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round today in Melbourne’s Parliament Gardens outside a statue of Sir Doug and Lady Gladys Nicholls.
This is the eleventh year the AFL has celebrated Indigenous Round and the second time the Round has been celebrated since being renamed after Sir Doug Nicholls.
Sir Doug Nicholls was born on Cummeragunja mission in New South Wales in 1906, he played football for Fitzroy before becoming a Pastor and pioneer for reconciliation in Australia. He then went on to become the first Indigenous person to be Knighted and hold the position of Governor of South Australia.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan emphasised the importance of Sir Doug Nicholls’ legacy in a year when the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum takes place.
“Sir Doug was a pioneer of reconciliation in Australia throughout his lifetime, and he found that sport, in particular Australian Football, was a powerful vehicle for this message,” Mr McLachlan said.
“On May 27 1967 a Federal referendum was held which resulted in the elimination of discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples within the Australian Constitution.
“The referendum was a significant moment of change in our country’s Indigenous affairs and one that will be celebrated to the day during Saturday’s Dreamtime at the G match with Richmond and Essendon.
“We are proud to be the first sporting body in the Australia, and one of the first in the world, to have introduced a racial vilification policy which is now over twenty years old.
“Indigenous Round allows us to highlight Sir Doug’s legacy which continues to shine through in the Indigenous players of today, such as Eddie Betts and Cyril Rioli.
“Even more pleasing is that this year we add superstars, such as Kirby Bentley, from the NAB AFL Women’s Competition to the list of Indigenous players making their mark on our game.
“In the last twelve months the AFL has been delighted to add Tanya Hosch to our executive in the role of General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy, where her vast experience in public policy and advocacy in women’s and Indigenous affairs has been a welcome addition to our wider business on the issues we continue to face,” he said.
Round 10 of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season will celebrate the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made to Australian Football and will begin with Thursday night’s match between the Geelong and Port Adelaide Football Clubs at Simonds Stadium.
The Round will be highlighted with the Marn Grook match at the SCG between Sydney and Hawthorn on Friday night, followed by Dreamtime at the G between Richmond and Essendon on Saturday night.
AFL General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch said the significant outcome of the 1967 Referendum still impacted today’s game and grassroots programs.
“It’s pleasing to see that a number of today’s elite players will be changing their playing numbers to commemorate the 1967 Referendum and the significance it still has to them and their families,” Ms Hosch said.
“For the first time since 2006, there will be more than 80 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players on AFL lists. This year there are 81 male players who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander which makes up ten per cent of AFL lists, and 11 female players who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in the NAB AFL Women’s Competition.
“Sport is a powerful vehicle to unite people, and we continue to invest in the AFL’s Indigenous Programs, with partner Rio Tinto, that deliver talent from across Australia. These programs, such as the Rio Tinto AFL Woomeras and Flying Boomerangs, deliver educational and leadership outcomes for participants too.
“This week we see the Rio Tinto AFL Footy Means Business program come into Melbourne to undertake opportunities within elite training facilities, educational and leadership workshops. Culminating in the squad playing the curtain-raiser match to Dreamtime at the G on Saturday,” she said.
Each match during the Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round will have the Aboriginal flag painted in the centre circle, the Torres Strait Island flag painted on one of the 50 metre markings on each half of the field, and ‘67’ placed on the other 50 metre markings.
Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls:
- Born December 9, 1906 in Cummeragunja NSW
- Died June 4, 1988 in Mooroopna, Victoria
- VFL/AFL: 54 games for Fitzroy Football Club 1932-1937. Victorian representative player for two games.
- Was third in Fitzroy’s best and fairest count in 1934
- VFA (now VFL): Northcote Football Club 1927-1931 and 1938-1939. VFA representative player for two games.
- Northcote Football Club’s best and fairest player in 1929 and 1930.
- Played in Northcote Football Club’s premiership side in 1929.
- Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order 1977
- Knight Bachelor 1972
- Governor of South Australia 1976-1977
- OBE 1968
- MBE 1957
PROGRAM OF MATCHES (all times are local)
Round Ten, Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round:
Thursday May 26
Geelong Cats v Port Adelaide at Simonds Stadium, 7.20pm
Friday May 26
Sydney Swans v Hawthorn at the SCG, 7.50pm
Saturday May 27
Western Bulldogs v St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, 1.45pm;
Melbourne v Gold Coast SUNS at Alice Springs, 4,05pm;
Adelaide Crows v Fremantle at Adelaide Oval, 7.10pm (Curtain Raiser – McLeod Challenge, 5.05pm);
Richmond v Essendon at the MCG, 7.25pm (Curtain Raiser – Footy Means Business, 2.55pm)
Sunday May 28
Collingwood v Brisbane Lions at the MCG, 1.10pm
West Coast v GWS GIANTS at Domain Stadium, 2.40pm (Curtain Raiser – Western Desert Indigenous Team match, 11.45am);
Carlton v North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, 3.20pm
For information on the 2017 Toyota AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, visit www.afl.com.au/indigenousround