Fremantle will wear their ‘clash’ Indigenous jumper when running out against Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium on Saturday in acknowledgement of NAIDOC Week.
It will be the third time this season that the Club has worn an Indigenous themed jumper, with Fremantle keen to acknowledge the rich history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait footballers to play for Fremantle since 1995 - as well as WAFL teams South and East Fremantle in their history.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is ‘Heal Country’, calling for all Australians to embrace First Nation’s cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia's national heritage.
When ‘Country’ is spoken about in First Nations culture, it is spoken of like a person.
Country is family, kin, law, lore, ceremony, traditions, and language. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples it has been this way since the dawn of time.
The themes of ‘Country’ are shown throughout Fremantle’s 2021 Indigenous jumper, which was designed by past player Des Headland, AFLW player Mikayla Morrisson and artist Kevin Bynder,
Headland explained the connection to his side of the family, which is shown down the right half of the jumper.
“(We go) from Shark bay, the right side goes through Moora, Kununoppin, Mukinbudin and Merredin where a lot of my family still live. Making our way through past the Darling Ranges into Whadjuk Boodjar (Noongar for people of the Swan River plains, whose country is now the Perth metropolitan region). There the river mouth comes into Walyallup (Fremantle) looking out to Wadjimup (Rottnest Island),” Headland said.
To Morrison, it was important to highlight the Beeliar Wetlands.
“I really wanted to include the waterways. It’s very important to the Beeliar mob. I was born and raised on Whadjuk country, which is the Perth region, but my family is spread all around WA, through the Yamatji region around Shark Bay and Geraldton and Gija around Halls Creek in the Kimberley. My Noongar country isn’t actually Perth, it’s Balladong, which is the Wheatbelt. The left side shows all of those aspects together and coming to Perth,” Morrisson said.
It is the largest deaths in custody site in Australia and the largest known burial ground of Aboriginal people. As a result, many First Nations people will not visit Rottnest Island to this day – highlighting the importance of ‘Healing Country’.
“(On the back of the jumper) we have us boys standing with our arms behind our backs from when we played together in 2003, it was the most ever represented in one game of Aboriginal players. It was fantastic,” Headland said.
“With the design, we came up with the idea of showing us seven boys with our tribal connections above our heads overlooking Wadjemup.
“There is a big burial site over there with a lot of our leaders and our strong men that were taken away from communities all over WA into a prison camp. Unfortunately not many, if any, went back home to country.
“It’s a special gesture to say, we’re here, we’ve got your back, we’re thinking of you.”
The design process was also done in conjunction with Fremantle’s ‘Stretch’ RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan), which was developed in assistance with the Club’s Indigenous program partner, Woodside.