Cygnet Football Club will wear Indigenous-designed guernseys for the first time this weekend in the club’s annual Indigenous round clash with local rivals, the Huonville Lions.
Initiated by the Huonville Football Club last year, “The Port” decided to design their own Indigenous guernsey for the local derby to recognise the Indigenous people involved at their club and throughout the broader Huon Valley community.
After not having an Indigenous round uniform for last year’s clash, club president David O’Neill said his club felt it was important to represent the Aboriginal community by having an Indigenous round guernsey.
“(Huonville and Cygnet), both have quite a few people in our community of Indigenous descent,” he said.
Mr O’Neill said the club’s priority was ensuring Indigenous voice informed the guernsey’s design.
“We decided that it was very important that the jumper was done by a local representative of the Aboriginal community,” he said.
“From a club perspective, we didn’t want to just make a pretty jumper and have no meaning to it.
“We wanted it to come from a local representative of the Aboriginal community, and we wanted it to mean something to all the players.”
With the assistance of South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation, the club was able to connect with Indigenous artist Bron Englert, who completed the guernsey design.
The Mellukerdee woman tells the local dreaming story of parrabah the whale through her design, a story that was shared with her from a young age which has been passed down be Elders in the area.
“I want to stick close to my roots as an Aboriginal kid growing up in Cygnet,” Ms Englert said.
“The whale features with the sea eagle (on the guernsey) because that is a creation story that Elders tell about the creation of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
“It’s about parrabah the whale was fleeing a shark coming up through the channel and as she’s trying to flee with her baby calf, she’s flicking her tail and that’s creating the beaches coming up the channel.
“A sea eagle comes into the story because the sea eagle is flying, trying to guide parrabah to safety.”
Ms Englert said the swan’s inclusion was important due to the bird’s influence on the naming of her hometown and it’s value in local Aboriginal culture.
“The swan is how Cygnet got it’s name,” she said.
“Swans were really important in teaching about what sort of year we’re going to have, whether it was going to be a really wet year or not.
“They were part of the diet and it was just part of our culture.”
Cygnet Football Club vice-president and Mellukerdee man Trent Cowen said wearing the Indigenous guernseys needed to be significant for the playing group and for Indigenous culture to be at the forefront of the players’ minds.
“It needed to be something really meaningful and we needed to have some sort of cultural activity too,” he said.
This ethos lead to the club organising a recent on-Country cultural experience for players on Bruny Island’s Murrayfield Station, where players spent time learning about the history and culture of Tasmanian Aboriginal people from local Elder and former Cygnet Football Club player, Uncle Rodney Dillon.
The day also included peer-to-peer on-Country guernsey presentation.
“Players were asked to think about another player that they really respected and valued,” Mr Cowen said.
“They then told everyone else (as part of the presentation) why they appreciated that person, which went really well as well.”
According to Mr Cowen the players enjoyed the cultural experience on Bruny Island that they’ve asked to return in the future.
“The players loved the property so much that they’ve asked to go back there for a camp in the pre-season,” he said.
Cygnet will face Huonville at Huonville Oval this Saturday, August 6, with games from 8:45am.