The players in both the football and netball games at Wonthaggi on Sunday are presented with gum leaves in recognition of our connection to the land prior to the start of the indigenous round of matches. M442715

The players in both the football and netball games at Wonthaggi on Sunday are presented with gum leaves in recognition of our connection to the land prior to the start of the indigenous round of matches. M442715

THE first local indigenous football and netball round, extended over several weeks and including four Alberton and two Gippsland League teams, has been dubbed a major success.
At the start of NAIDOC Week, the focus on our indigenous heritage was a feature at games at Inverloch on Saturday and Wonthaggi on Sunday, where a huge crowd enjoyed both the smoking ceremony and other activities before the main games got underway, and also the keen competition on the ground and on the court once play got underway.
At Wonthaggi, players donned indigenous designs inspired by local students Nicole Adams for Leongatha and Matilda Carter for Wonthaggi and both footballers and netballers lined up to take part before the game.
One of the organisers of the indigenous activities, which commence with a ‘Long Walk’ to the Wonthaggi Rec Reserve by more than 120 people on Sunday, Sonia Weston, said the day was really something to build on for the future.
“I thought the level of engagement here at Wonthaggi was better than what we had at Inverloch but it just means we have to work a bit harder for respect and recognition, Ms Weston said.
“But overall, it’s been very well received.”
MC for the event at the Wonthaggi ground, renowned musician Kutcher Edwards, said the day was about understanding: “It’s about dropping a pebble in the pond and seeing where the ripples take us in understanding.”
He said indigenous people came in all colours and sizes, not necessarily only in his particular shade of black, and that there were many of people with indigenous heritage living in the local area, in Bunurong country.

Wonthaggi Power player, Aiden Lindsay, was awarded the inaugural indigenous round medal, as the best player afield in the feature match between Leongatha and Wonthaggi at Wonthaggi. m332715

Wonthaggi Power player, Aiden Lindsay, was awarded the inaugural indigenous round medal, as the best player afield in the feature match between Leongatha and Wonthaggi at Wonthaggi. m332715

Steve Parker and Chris Hume, together with a dancing troupe of children, prepared the smoking ceremony and after each player passed through the smoke as a cleansing exercise, it was on with the games.