Richmond AFL, VFL and VFLW players embrace cultural dances

Richmond AFL, VFL and VFLW players embrace cultural dances

Richmond’s visual celebrations of culture were a clear highlight of Saturday’s Dreamtime Triple Header.

In an AFL and VFL first, Richmond players, Sydney Stack and Derek Eggmolesse-Smith were involved directly in the pre-game War Cries prior to their respective matches.

The entire VFLW playing 23 also took part in the Women’s “Unity Dance”.

The Tigers performed War Cries pre their VFL, VFLW and AFL clashes with Essendon at both the Swinburne Centre and MCG.

The Men’s War Cry was created to have a special connection to the Richmond Football Club.

KGI Program Officer, Matt Muir, who along with Jordan Edwards and other KGI alumni drove the creation of the dance said it was important the story represented Richmond’s Indigenous players.

“We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to sit down with those players, it was pivotal that the War Cry expressed them,” he said.

“Having the players involved throughout the experience has been unbelievable, we hope in the years to come there can be more player involvement and hopefully they can eventually take the reins and make it their own.

“It was an unreal thing for the fans to see a player get involved in the War Cry and to express their culture in a new way.”

The performers’ painted markings represented the different phases of the leadership journey.

The dance movements had a connection to South-East Victoria, and its significant animals; the eel, Bunjil the eagle and the Lagunta (Tiger).

The War Cry was performed by both KGI participants and members of Richmond’s Next Generation Academy.

Stack said he wanted to be involved in the Tigers’ War Cry to be a role model to young Indigenous people in his home state of Western Australia.

“I love my culture and that’s why I decided to dance, it felt good and I am a proud Noongar person.”

The Women’s Unity Dance was created by KGI Program Manager Thara Brown and VFLW player Natarsha Bamblett in collaboration with Wurundjeri woman, Mandy Nicholson, and her daughter, Ky-Ya Ward, for language and local story guidance.

Ky-Ya led the girls into a communal circle to cleanse the area whilst the other dancers gathered into the story of Gunnwarra, the black swan wives of Bunjil, described as protective and fierce. The women voice ‘Balit’, strong in Woiwurrung language, then hunted with digging sticks.


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