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Indigenous Australians & Sport: Origins and Achievements

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  1. Indigenous Australians & Sport: Origins and Achievements

  2. Lecture Format Will take a broad brush approach by looking at Indigenous contribution to sport in Australia. Examine some of the key barriers that prevented Indigenous people gaining equality in sport. Look at what’s happening today at the local level to bring about better understanding and opportunities for Indigenous sportspeople.

  3. Background of Sporting Achievements • It is true to say that Australia is a sports loving country in which Indigenous Australians have made a major contribution-running, boxing, tennis, cricket, AFL,NFL, soccer, basketball, hockey, horse racing. • Considering Indigenous Australians are just over 2% of the general population (22 Million) their contribution to sport & Australian culture needs to be acknowledged-will examine this in the Murray Goulburn Region (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010). • Important to note that despite the continuing gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous equality, Indigenous Australians have achieved sporting success disproportionate to their population. • In 2010 an estimated 83 Indigenous players were playing footy in AFL about 16% of AFL-will come back to this.

  4. Opportunities for the Future • History shows that until the 1970s, Aborigines found it just as hard to gain equality in sport as they did in life generally. • For those who did make it in sport however, a voice was found from which they could then push for the rights of their people in the broader society. • And for that, sport must be acknowledged as having provided an opportunity for Aborigines to push for greater equality and the enjoyment of those fundamental rights that belong to all peoples.

  5. Indigenous Struggle for Equality • For those who have chosen sport as a pathway to recognition & greater equality, it has also provided inspiration for fellow Indigenous Australians. • We’ll show them were just as good- if not better approach. • Role modeling, for younger generations.

  6. Overview of Indigenous Sportspeople & their achievements across a broad range of sports on the National & International level.

  7. In 1868 very first Australian cricket team to visit England was Aboriginal. They played a match at North Shields, enthralling crowds with displays of boomerang throwing as well as cricket. Aboriginal Cricket Team, 1868

  8. Eddie Gilbert • Eddie Gilbert is widely acknowledged as the unluckiest Aboriginal sportsmen of that era. He received high praise from Sir Donald Bradman and could have gone on to play for Australia. • Instead, his career was cut short when the Queensland Cricket Association told Gilbert his services were no longer required.’ Little doubt remains as to the motivations behind the association’s decision. • The stark reality is that many others suffered discrimination similar to Gilbert’s. True, the barriers were breaking down during the interwar years, but they were breaking slowly. In fact, during that period, Aborigines probably achieved no more in their push for equality in sport than they did in their push for equality in general Australian society. • However, for those who did manage to break through the barriers and forge successful sporting, careers, sport did provide a launching pad for bigger and better things.

  9. Achievements in late 1800s • Possibly the most remarkable achievement against the barriers to equality in sport was the selection of Frank Ivory to play rugby union for Queensland in 1893. • Also noteworthy is the little known fact that the winner of the 1876 Melbourne Cup was a 13-year-old Aboriginal jockey named Peter St Albans. Peter St Albans wagged school to ride the Melbourne Cup winner of 1876. year winner Jockey trainer • BRISEIS Peter St Albans J Wilson • Other famous Aboriginal Jockey- Darby McCarthy whose record includes three Stradbrokes, the Brisbane Cup and Doomben 10,000, and the 1969 AJC Derby and Epsom Stakes on the same day. • McCarthy was dynamic and for his group 1 double at Randwick he jousted with George Moore. http://www.melbournecup.com.au/previous.php

  10. Sporting achievements at the local level

  11. Lynch Cooper, 1927Sport and Empowerment • Historian Colin Tatz points out, Lynch Cooper’s victories brought him money (from gambling on himself) that helped him and his family to survive the depression years with relative dignity.

  12. Example of Local Talent in Running • Eddy Briggs- Professional, Stawell Gift Finalist • Donny Briggs-Professional Runner • George Nelson-Professional Runner, Trainer of Stawell Gift winner, Noel Hussey, 1968 • Paul Briggs- Stawell Gift finalist • Stan Charles- Stawell Gift finalist • Geoff Cooper, professional running • Jimmy Murray, professional runner • Bobby McDonald created crouch start in running • Leo Muir, Runner up in Wangaratta Gift • Sir Doug Nichols won Warracknabeal Gift

  13. Multi Talented Sportspeople • Many local sportsmen were multi skilled combining running, football and boxing- Doug Nichols, Jimmy Murray, and many more ran, played footy, and fought in boxing tents-Jimmy Sharman's travelling boxing tent of 1950s.

  14. Evonne Goolagong • Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, who beat fellow Australian Margaret Court to win Wimbledon in 1971, has made a name for herself as an Aboriginal activist. • The attitude of paternalism that the media displayed towards her in her younger days probably provided much of the motivation for her entry into the world of activism. • Although times had changed enough to ensure that she never suffered deliberate racial exclusion like Eddie Gilbert did half a century earlier, Goolagong-Cawley was still forced to deal with the media constantly highlighting her differences. Words used to describe her included ‘picaninny’, ‘dusky’ and ‘tawny’.

  15. 250,000 strong crowd turned up in Melbourne in 1968 to celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose, who had just become world bantamweight boxing champion-who did he beat and where? Rose’s reception was the perfect example of the changing times. While Aboriginal sportspeople who succeeded at sport were just as equally lauded by the press and adored by the people as their non- Indigenous counterparts, racism coupled by ignorance remained just below the surface. Lionel Rose Reception 1968 Jacksons Track Lionel & Kosta, 1998

  16. Challenged misconceptions of Indigenous Australia by using flag as a symbol of Indigenous Australian nationhood and identity. Inspired other Indigenous sportspeople & younger generation to set their sights high in sporting achievements Cathy Freeman, 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney 2000

  17. FOOTBALL AS A PATH TO EQUALITY & ACCEPTANCE SOME EXAMPLES

  18. Joe Johnson 1904-1906 • Regarded as one if not the first Indigenous footballer to play in the Victorian Football League, VFL (Joe Johnson played 55 games and won two premierships with Fitzroy from 1904 to 1906) • He then went to Northcote to coach a young lad named Doug Nichols.

  19. It is believed this very game, played for millennia, provided the lawmakers of Australian football with some of the fundamentals of the game we know and play today. It was a mass game of keepings off with a round ball about the size of an orange, which was a possum skin stuffed with charcoal and bound by kangaroo tail sinews (Poulter, Sharing Heritage in Kulin Country, 2011: 37), Marn-Grookn. Gunditjmara. Eng. "Game Ball“http://www.aboriginalfootball.com.au/marngrook.html

  20. Origins of Australian Rules Footy • Origins of Australian Rules are claimed to be Marngrook with influence of Gaelic football first played by the Irish in Australia in 1843 which coincided with St Patricks Day. • However, some aspects of Australian football, such as high marking, were undoubtedly influenced by the Aboriginal game-will discuss other attributes that Indigenous people have brought to the game shortly.

  21. RISE OF INDIGENOUS FOOTBALLERS in 21 Century Australia • In 1982 to when the Krakouer brothers arrived at North Melbourne there were 5 Indigenous players in what was then the VFL (Age, June 18, 2005). • In (2005), there are 51 Indigenous footballers in the AFL making up 8% of the competition. • In 2007 there are now 71 and increase of 20 Indigenous players in the space of years? What does that represent (Koori Mail, 18 March, 2005).

  22. Given the size of its population (500 at its peak) its contribution to sport and particularly football has been outstanding. Cummeragunja: 1888-2007

  23. Sir Doug Nicholls 1932-37 • Nicholls initially joined Carlton, but faced by constant racist taunts from his own team mates he moved to Fitzroy, where he played from 1932-37. (story) • What makes Nicholls story so special is that he went on to become an activist with the Aboriginal Advancement League and was later knighted - a rarity for an Indigenous Australian. • In 1976, Nicholls became the Governor of South Australia, an incredible achievement given that Aborigines were only granted voting rights in l962’ and only won the right to be included in the census in 1967.’

  24. 'Let us enter your society on our terms, living side by side with you but remaining at all times a cultural group with our own identity' (speech by Sir Doug Nicholls 1969, in Peterson and Langton, 1983:253). Sir Doug Nicholls on Assimilation Winner of Warracknabeal Gift, 1929

  25. Two of the first Indigenous Australians to succeed at Australian football's highest level between 1947 and 1952.  Both continued to play country football for many years after their retirement from the 'big time'. Jackson Coached Thornton (story) McDonald played with Golden Square in Bendigo League. Eddy Jackson & Norm McDonald, 1947-1952

  26. Indigenous equality & recognition through sport: Pathways to the Future Presented to Academy of Sport Health & Education Program, University of Melbourne, 20 January 2011 Dr Wayne Atkinson-Senior Lecturer School of Social & Political Science University of Melbourne Back Row: Ian Charles, Frank Abrahams, Paul Briggs, Terry Hood (d.), Jim Berg, Joe Swindle, Ian Charles Robert Muir, Geoff Clark, Robert Lowe, Gary Murray. Middle: Dowie Bux, Billy Muir (d.), Wayne Briggs, Alick Jackomas (d.)Team Manager, Alec Smith, Des James, Gary Nelson. Sitting Lionel McGee, John Murray Bert Williams (d.).

  27. Key Events that bought about equality in Indigenous participation in Sport&Greater Awareness of Racism on and off the Field

  28. Racial Vilification April 17, 1993, Victoria Park, Melbourne. Nicky Winmar has just completed a best-on-ground performance to help St. Kilda to a memorable victory over Collingwood in round four of the Australian Football League (AFL) season. Winmar's courageous act led to a push by former Essendon player Michael Long to create a racial vilification policy adopted by the AFL (Age, 10 March, 2005).

  29. Winmar Incident (cont) • If Winmar was the player that brought the issue of racism to the media, an incident involving Michael Long was almost certainly the instigator for the creation of the AFL’s anti-racism program. In 1995, the Essendon champion complained of suffering racist abuse from Collingwood ruckman Damian Monkhorst. • AFL­organised mediation between the two players failed to resolve the issue, and left with no choice, the AFL moved quickly to introduce its Code of Conduct. • Under the new rules, players could be fined or suspended for on-field racist language. It is also significant that the Code of Conduct was introduced in the same year as the Federal Government’s Racial Hatred Act 1995. • The efforts of Winmar and Long should not be underestimated. As sportspeople, they brought racism to the fore of public debate, and helped to pave the way for legislation that would have been unthinkable only a decade earlier.

  30. Cultural Continuity through Sport, Health & Education Cummera Footy Team,1927 Rumbalara Football & Netball Club, Shepparton Academy of Sport Health & Education, Shepparton, 2005 (University of Melbourne) Oncountry Learning: Indigenous Studies visit to RFNC Uni of Melb,2005.

  31. Cummeragunja Football Team Premiers, c.1927. : Henry Charles, Rupert Cooper, Gordon Aultern, George Burns, Bill Atkinson, Gingo Morgan, Micky McDonald, Selwyn Briggs, Frank Atkinson, Jacky Cooper, Tim Ross,Mick Morgan, Aaron Briggs, Henry Charles, Maurice Charles. Front: Bob Nelson, Tom Dunolly Snr, Dowie Nicholls, Tom Dunolly Jnr.

  32. Statistics on Indigenous Players in AFL, 2010 • 1982=5 • 2005=51 • 2007=71 • 2010=83 • 1982-2005= 90% increase in 23 years • 2005-2010= 50% increase in last 2 years. • 2% of Aust Pop but over 15% of AFL, 2010

  33. Indigenous AFL Umpires

  34. Sport and Indigenous Recognition: Conclusions • It is true that sport has given Aborigines more recognition and collective pride, than any other single activity both from within their own community and from the broader Australian community. • Indigenous Australians still have a long struggle ahead of them if they are to achieve equality. They are still in a disadvantaged position. Even in sport, where so much progress has been made, there is much that still needs to be done (Colin Tatz, Aborigines and Sport, 1987).

  35. Opportunities through Sport Health & Education is pathway to Future Pride Integrity Respect Shared Identity Solidarity Grab the ball & use it to your teams advantage

  36. Rumbalara Football & Netball Club: A Holistic Approach to the Future

  37. A Holistic Worldview of Sport, Health, Education & Community

  38. Questions for Discussion Why do Indigenous Australians perform so well in sport? Why are they so good at footy? Is Indigenous achievement in sport innate or a learned, cultural trait or is it driven by social and economic factors?