Why Football Australia should implement an Indigenous Round

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It is not uncommon for Football Australia and the A-League to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Indigenous Australians in football.

This, of course, is rightly so, as Indigenous Australians have been giving significant and important contributions to football since the sport established itself in this nation. So, despite all the lip service, the question must be raised: why is there no A-League and W-League Indigenous Round?

From a cultural perspective, the idea has a lot to offer. According to Daniel James of IndigenousX, as of 2018 Aboriginal players made up only 1.2% of A-League teams lists compared to the 10% and 12% margins of AFL and NRL respectively.

This further proves the lack of Indigenous representation in the sport, emphasising the way in which an official Indigenous round would speak volumes to all, and would give younger Indigenous generations the chance to see themselves represented in football at a professional level.

According to the Westfield Matildas as of November 2020, only six Indigenous women have represented the country. When you consider the Matildas played their first match over 45 years ago, this is a very small representation.

Outside of the overwhelming cultural benefits, an annual Indigenous round could also see merchandise and celebrations that focuses on signifying the importance of art in the Indigenous culture.

The designing, creation and selling of unique jerseys will highlight the beauty and sacredness of Indigenous art, reinforcing the overall theme of culture awareness as the driving force behind an Indigenous Round.

Additionally, this is a great chance to demonstrate an intercultural connection by allowing local Indigenous artists to create the design themselves – further connecting the individual A-League clubs with the Indigenous nation in which it is based.

By producing authentic Indigenous art with both cultural and club meaning, fans will not only be able to indulge these unique pieces but learn of the links between their clubs and the land in which it is situated upon; something they may not already know.

Further, should FA wish to encourage a true celebration of the Indigenous communities across Australia, a unique choice would be having Indigenous round matches played in local or rural Aboriginal communities.

Not only does this create exposure for said communities but it would be intriguing to watch teams play in unique locations.

Indigenous traditions could also be included in the lead up to kick-off, such as a traditional smoking ceremony to bless the grounds, a traditional dance/music performance or at the very least a speech made by a local Indigenous leader to explain a history of the location and its community.

Ultimately, should Football Australia wish to go ahead with the idea, it needs to be a total change from A-League tradition and done in consultation with local Indigenous peoples. An exciting event that embodies the spirit of Indigenous culture in every asset of the game to best celebrate their lively culture and pay respect to first nationers as the traditional custodians of our country.

Diversity and representation in Australian sport is constantly improving and growing, so the A-League and W-League must be the next to take this step and shine a light on the importance of our Indigenous culture and peoples.

Feature Image Credit: Supplied

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