Indigenous round embraced

CHURCHILL Football Netball Club will host its inaugural indigenous round this weekend.

The round 14 North Gippsland Football-Netball League match between Churchill and Woodside on Saturday coincides with NAIDOC Week.

The round is a welcome addition to the season calendar for the club’s netball D grade captain and Koorie player Naomi Murphy.

Murphy took up netball just three years ago and the 40 year-old has made a big impact in her short time at the club, winning a grand final, coaches’ award and captaining the side.

However, the establishment of the indigenous round, funded through Netball Victoria and Deadly Sport Gippsland, following an application by A grade coach Rachael Paterson, is one of her proudest moments to date.

“It’s an opportunity to be a role model for the community,” Murphy said.

“I’ve been working with the club and we have a number of events planned for Saturday.

“They’ve been great – they’ve really embraced the idea of an indigenous round.”

She said the community-focused club was welcoming to all players, regardless of their background.

“I haven’t experienced any racism or remarks. The club is very understanding of me when I need to miss events due to a funeral or community commitments,” Murphy said.

Saturday’s indigenous round will include a welcome to country performed by Christine Johnson, followed by a traditional smoking ceremony led by reserves player Luke Johnson.

Senior players will dress in specially designed footy jerseys and netball dresses for the day, donated by local Koorie sports committee Budjeri Napan of which Murphy is vice-chair.

Best on court and best on ground medallions are up for grabs across all the grades to further drive some friendly competition and mark the occasion.

“For us it’s important to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders past and present, it’s a way to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land,” Murphy said.

Murphy said it would be a fun day for the whole community and encouraged locals to come along and support the club.

The indigenous ceremony kicks off from 2pm at the club’s ground, Gaskin Park, Churchill.