NAIDOC celebration at Mirboo North

A SMOKING ceremony and special uniform were among the NAIDOC week celebrations at Mirboo North on Saturday when the Tigers hosted Newborough.

The first indigenous round in the Mid Gippsland Football League was won by the Bulldogs on a day which honoured the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people.

Club president Paul Pratt thanked the MGFL for its support in holding this event and hoped the whole league would have an indigenous round again next year.

“We want to pay our respects to our past and present Aboriginal members, who have contributed so much to our club,” Pratt said.

“We hope this event will also demonstrate our support and admiration for Australia’s first people.”

A welcome to country and smoking ceremony were performed by Ronald Edwards, a well known Aboriginal artist.

This ceremony is one of the most significant and ancient performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Edwards said the ceremony involved using various native plants local to the area, to produce smoke.

“The smoke is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits,” he said.

Mirboo North’s senior football and A grade netball teams wore a specially designed uniform for the occasion, encompassing Gunai Kurnai elements by Edwards.

Edwards said when designing the uniform he drew on line works, as they were part of this area.

“There are five stars, which represent the five clan groups of the Gunai Kurnai. The design is based on this place and the snakes are part of the land back in the Dreamtime, they made the rivers and water ways,” he said.

Tigers senior coach Clancy Bennett said the round was a clear and practical way of demonstrating Mirboo North was an inclusive club.

“It’s an opportunity to acknowledge past and ongoing contributions of indigenous people to our community,” he said.

Bennett presented the idea to the club committee based on his involvement in an indigenous round in the Wimmera Football League with Dimboola Football Netball Club.

“The club and players embraced the indigenous round and used it as a way of starting conversations and increasing awareness about Aboriginal culture. This is what we are hoping to achieve in the Mid Gippsland Football League.”