Two Healesville teenagers and past Worawa Aboriginal College students have made their mark in AFL history, after designing the 2018 AFL Umpires’ shirt to be worn during the dedicated Sir Doug Nicholls Round this week. Anna Pavlou reports.
Marianna Gurruwirri designed the artwork displayed on the front of the shirt that represents the land and the Aboriginal community, while 14-year-old Zephaniah Neil, designed the artwork displayed on the back of the shirt that represents water, turtles and the Torres Strait Island communities.
The shirt is the second occasion AFL Umpires will wear a uniform that acknowledges the contribution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have had on our game.
Creating the design in her art class, Neil said her artwork was based on the tranquillity of the water and turtles.
“I designed turtles on my guernsey. It took me a few weeks to do. I did turtles because I think turtles are nice and gentle creatures.”
After finding out that her design was one of two pieces chosen to be displayed on the AFL umpires’ shirt, Neil was taken aback.
“I was speechless. I feel really proud. Mum feels really proud of me too.”
AFL Field Umpire Rob Findlay is honoured to be part of the special commemorative Round and looks forward to donning the artwork proudly.
“As an umpire, I’ve been out there many times during the Sir Doug Nicholls Round wishing that we could play a bigger role in the Round as well, so it’s great to be involved,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic design that celebrates both the Aboriginal culture and Torres Strait Islanders’ culture and it will stand out on the field.”
Worawa Aboriginal College, in Healesville, is a female Indigenous boarding school for years 7-10 and Year 11 VCAL. It hosts one of the four highly valued AFL Victoria Umpiring Diversity Academies, which provides Indigenous students with the chance to learn how to umpire and develop their skills.
The 2018 Sir Doug Nicholls Round kicks off in Alice Springs on May 27 and will carry through Round 11 of the AFL fixture, coinciding with National Reconciliation week from May 27 to June 3.