Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Footy And Social Change

It's been twenty years last week since this image of Nicky Winmar lifting his guernsey and showing the colour of his skin in response to supporters over the fence vilifying him due to his race happened on a footy field in Victoria. This show of pride in who he is, and where he comes from is an iconic vision of our game today, and was immortalized in this piece of street art in an alley off Franklin Street in Melbourne’s CDB, spotted in Grand Final week last year.

Aussie Rules Footy and footy fans have come a long way since that day. There are more and more initiatives recognising and respecting our Indigenous players, and there are more Indigenous players given the opportunity to follow their dream of playing on the big stage. Events like the Indigenous Round, and the Dreamtime game would have been unthinkable back when Winmar was the target of such revolting abuse.

Footy, like mainstream culture, is by no means at a point of perfect acceptance for people of different cultures, nor towards our Indigenous brothers and sisters. But the leveling experience of sport has helped the ongoing struggle to get us closer.

On the weekend just gone, the first player from a refugee background played his first game in the AFL. Majak Daw is also the first Sudanese player in the AFL, and his addition to the North Melbourne team on Sunday created such a buzz in the media and at Etihad Stadium. The optimist in me hopes that this match, all 15 minutes that Daw managed before he was knocked out (after an amazing mark and a goal with his first kick, all in the opening minute), will be the start of a significant journey for Australia and it's acceptance of people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

From little things, big things grow...


  1. I agree that sport is a leveling experience and I too hope that from little things, big things grow. Enjoyed reading this post Tash, and as I don't know a lot about AFL, I really learnt something too.

    1. Thanks Jo! Spreading the good word...little things, and glad it had an impact.


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