Sir Doug Nicholls Round: “It’s about being part of a family”

By Alice Barker

Emma MacNeill is one of many Indigenous footballers currently plying their trade in Queensland’s competitions.

A proud indigenous woman, MacNeill hails from Kununurra in the Western Desert where she is a proud Martu woman.

She is also a daughter, sister, fiancé, ex-model, mother, surrogate mother, artist and footy player.

Emma plays for the Wilston Grange Gorilla where she formed part of the team that stormed to a maiden QAFLW premiership in 2018.

As competitions and players across the nation celebrate Sir Doug Nicholls Round this weekend, MacNeill reflected on what it means to be a part of this round as an Indigenous player.

“It’s a very special round for me and every indigenous player,” said Emma.

“It’s a moment we get to recognise our players, past and present and what the game means to us, it’s about being part of a family, something more than yourself.

“You’re representing your culture and not only that, you’re paving the way for other young players coming through.”

Emma and her teammates will run onto the field with traditional Indigenous guernseys, designed by herself next weekend in their Grand Final rematch with Coorparoo.

However, this isn’t the first time Emma has added a bit of paint to the AFL scene.

In 2016 she designed the jerseys for the Brisbane Lions, and has since collaborated with various AFL stars such as Eddie Betts and Buddy Franklin.

Some of her most striking works can be seen on the feet of AFL players, such as Kirby Bentley, James Aish, Liam Jones, Danica Pedersen and of course her partner Mitch Robinson.

This year, her influence has again been felt. Her Indigenous artwork is featured across AFL Queensland and its various social media channels throughout Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Emma is an avid advocate for her heritage, boasting her culture where she can and is proud to be able to pass that on to not only her children, but all Aboriginal children.

When asked what she would like to say to all young aspiring indigenous footy players, she told them to take those hopes seriously, and to not give up.

“If you want to take footy seriously, by all means, you can actually make a career out of it now,” Emma said.

“The sky is the limit, do exactly what you like, you’ve just got to work hard, believe in yourself and don’t give up.”

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