Lions and Tigers come together for Reconciliation Week
WINTER Reserve on Saturday facilitated song, dance and welcoming, but also a plea to instigate change as the Belmont Lions hosted its annual National Reconciliation Week game.
Joining the pre-game ceremonies and the President’s Lunch was the Bannockburn Football and Netball Club, a first for the organisation as the Tigers fully embraced being a part of the momentous day.
“Historically this game has always been against Corio, but we want to spread the message and educate people from all over the region about what Reconciliation Week is,” Belmont Football and Netball president Mark Edwards said.
“Last year we held the day with East Geelong, and they loved it, so we’re starting to get more clubs and people to see the bigger picture, having everyone together and understanding that we all come from different cultures and backgrounds.
“This year it was Bannockburn and who knows, next year it might be a club like Bell Post Hill or someone else and that’s what we want, we want everyone to have this journey with us.”
Prior to the opening bounce, both clubs lined up on the Winter Reserve oval before a smoking ceremony took place with every player placing a leaf into the ceremonial fire.
Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative chair Craig Edwards gave a welcoming speech to the crowd before Gunditjimara and Wadawurrung dancers Jade Kennedy, Jordan Edwards and Lowell Hunter took centre stage.
The two clubs’ Firsts teams split the results between the two sporting codes as Belmont’s netball (47-41) and Bannockburn’s football (161-57) walked away with wins, but for First Nation people like Mr Edwards, the day is about more than just sport.
“Reconciliation is about closing the gap, it’s about all of us as Australians helping a demographic only making up 2.8 per cent of the population that has been dispossessed, removed, isolated, treated with injustice and makes up 28 per cent of the jailed population,” Edwards said.
“There are still intrinsic issues in our society that need to be addressed, our mob live eight years less than the average Australian and Aboriginal home ownership in a population of about 800,000 Aboriginal people is just 11 per cent.
“The football and netball jumper is a process of explaining to people that we are here, but there is a bigger picture, and everyone seems to be missing it. We hope this day aims to help rectify that in the future.”
Bannockburn’s uniforms were designed Aboriginal man and Bannockburn football captain Dan Measures alongside friend and artist Matthew McCubbin, while Belmont’s were designed last year by Craig and Jordan Edwards.