When I was asked to put pen to paper ahead of Indigenous round this weekend, I couldn’t say yes quick enough. 

I was born and raised on Bunwurrung land (in the suburbs of southeast Melbourne), a place that I called home for 21 years, before I moved west. For the past nine years I have been lucky enough to call Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar my home. I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn, see and experience so much in our beautiful state and gain knowledge about the oldest continuous culture in the world.  

My experiences of travelling up north to many different communities, educating and learning is how I have grown understanding, appreciation and respect for the Indigenous culture. A sacred and proud culture that is so raw, beautiful and powerful is something I continue to educate myself on every opportunity I have, it’s something that I envy as a wedjela yorga (white female). The connection to land is something I practice each game, I take my shoes and socks off and take a walk on the oval. 

"It's a moment for me to be present, connect and appreciate the land that I am so lucky to play our great game on."

- Kara Antonio

For many years our football Club has conducted a smoking ceremony before the start of round one at our sacred ground in Walyalup (Fremantle Oval), led by two incredible humans who have led the way for many years - Uncle Richard Walley and Aunty Colleen Hayward. It’s a time where we have the opportunity to let all the bad spirits out, to be cleansed and start fresh – a new beginning. We share stories as players and as a Freo family, which is shared with family, friends, football Club staff and supporters. A moment where you realise that the Club is more than a Club, its moort (family). 

02:03 Mins
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Smoking Ceremony in the heart of Freo

Hear from Hayley Miller, Kara Antonio and Gemma Houghton as the Club came together for a Smoking Ceremony at Fremantle Oval, just weeks out from round one of the AFLW season.

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It’s my favourite round of the season, both in the men’s and in the women’s – we are able to take a moment and stop to celebrate our incredible Aboriginal players and what they bring to our great game, and most importantly recognise the positive impact that Aboriginal culture and history has on our game, our community and our country.  

We know the strong player legacy that our amazing men’s players have built over the Club’s history, but I am more excited about the legacy our amazing yorgas (females) have created and continued to create over our small six-year history. 68 players have had the honour of pulling on the purple jumper since our inception into the AFLW in 2017, an achievement that is no mean feat, they are paving the way for our next generation, and I cannot wait to sit back and watch it all unfold. 

I am a proud ally, advocating and supporting The Uluru Statement, the Change the Date campaign, and the recent Free the Flag movement. It’s important to have a strong voice and be able to use my platform to help educate those around me, as all Australians need to walk together, recognise and acknowledge the past and walk side by side for a better future for all, in our game and in the wider community. 

TICKETS TO THIS WEEKEND'S INDIGENOUS ROUND

I am proud to have played a small part in the history of our Indigenous jumper, helping design our first jumper only a few seasons a go with Uncle Richard Walley, Colleen Hayward, Jas Stewart, Gemma Houghton and Ebony Antonio – something that I will hold close to me for the rest of my life. 

I feel like I have the best seat in the house watching Mikayla Morrison do what she does best, she has this natural instinct to just put herself in the right spots and has the ball on an absolute string. The growth I have seen in Gemma Houghton and Jas Stewart over the years in their investment to learn more about their culture and history – is inspiring. The resilience I have witnessed in Tiah Toth to overcome adversity and the roller coaster of a journey she has been on to play a pivotal role for us each and every week is something I admire. 

"These incredibly strong and proud Aboriginal women are empowering their mob each and every time they pull on our jumper – more than ever – this weekend."

- Kara Antonio

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE FULL MEANING OF THE JUMPER

My Freo moort (family), I am so proud of you for celebrating our proud Aboriginal culture – of those that played before us, those that we are lucky to play alongside and are paving a way for those yet to brace us with their deadly skill. May we continue to lead the way in providing an environment that everyone feels included, loved and that they belong. 

Kalyakoorl Walyalup
Forever Freo