A CUSTOM Indigenous football will be used in every senior match throughout the AFL Goldfields region this weekend as the regional governing body looks to acknowledge the contribution of Indigenous Australians to the game.
All centre squares throughout the grounds in the Ballarat Football League will also be painted in the colours of the Aboriginal flag to coincide with the AFL’s Indigenous round.
The additions will see the BFL stage its most comprehensive Indigenous round since the concept was first bought in.
AFL Goldfields commercial and regional operations manager Aaron Nunn said the regional body had looked to find more ways to raise the profile of the round throughout the leagues.
“The footballs are a little initiative to get across the whole of the Goldfields region.”
As in previous years, Indigenous players from the 10 playing BFL clubs will where possible be invited to perform the coin toss instead of the club captain.
Redan, Darley and Bacchus Marsh will all wear special Indigenous themed jumpers for their clashes this weekend, while Redan’s netballers will also take to the court in one-off dresses.
A smoking ceremony performed by local elder Ted Lovett will act as the precursor to Sebastopol’s game against Lake Wendouree at Marty Busch Reserve, while ground announcers across the league will acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which the match will take place.
Sebastopol coach Shane Snibson said the round was particularly pertinent to the club due to their Indigenous connection, led by new recruit Brett Goodes. At a club dinner on Thursday night Peter Lovett from the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association delivered a speech to players about local Indigenous culture and history.
“It is a really critical game for us given the round,” Snibson said. “We’re trying to use football to help educate people and get them to understand more about Indigenous culture.”
The dedicated round comes after Central Highlands clubs Rokewood-Corindhap and Smythesdale staged their annual Indigenous match back in round five. Now in its third year, the match was created after an incident at a game between the two clubs in 2013 where a spectator racially abused Rokewood-Corindhap player Aaron Clarke.
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