Footscray Hockey Club’s NAIDOC Week Family Day

Published August 1, 2022.

Footscray Hockey Club (FHC) have celebrated their connection to First Nations people through their NAIDOC Week Family Day, hosting a full day of activities that included a native animal display, craft tables and smoking ceremony as well as eight hockey games.

After they received grant funding for the event in 2020, FHC’s plans were put on hold for a year due to COVID-19 but the Family Day has quickly become an annual event on the club’s calendar.

“As a club, we are committed to inclusion as a whole and a major part of that is our commitment to our First Nations people,” said Footscray Hockey Club Secretary, Melissa Morton.

“Historically, our country, including the sport of hockey, has not done enough to recognise and celebrate our Indigenous people, history and culture. We want to shift that mindset to acknowledge and celebrate our First Nations people’s contribution to hockey and our country overall, not just during NAIDOC Week but all year round. FHC is lucky to have members who are passionate about this space and we have formed a NAIDOC committee to ensure we run a culturally appropriate and welcoming event each year.”

Courtesy of Coles joining as a major sponsor, the day featured a barbecue and raffle with all proceeds used to support local indigenous businesses. Mabu Mabu, a local Torres Strait Islander owned business, offered indigenous food and Bunnings ran a pot-planting activity and other craft sessions including build-your-own bee hotel, boomerang decorating and a native animal workshop. Wurrumay Colective also provided scrunchies for their senior womens’ teams to wear and Kinya Lerrk created an acknowledgment of country plaque to display at the club’s entrance.

“We were really lucky to have Coles and Bunnings support our Family Day,” said Melissa. “We are also fortunate to have great inclusion partners in Victoria University, Melbourne University, Sport & Life Training and Welcoming Clubs.

“Being a volunteer organisation, it can be difficult to achieve everything we want to, so utilising those partnerships and tapping into fully funded external programs helps up create a coherent, structured plan and assists us to get the most out of what we do.”

Two premier league hockey games were held during the Family Day and streamed online with the broadcast also featuring a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony.

“FHC worked with the Bunurong Land Council and Bunurong elders and community members to make it a culturally safe and fun day that highlighted our lands’ traditional owners as well as the broader First Nations community.

“For our First Nations members and those in the wider community, we want to make sure they feel that our club is a welcoming place. We want to educate all our members on what being indigenous means, what connection to country is, the history of indigenous peoples in this country including what intergenerational trauma is and how it manifests and about this year’s NAIDOC Week theme which was ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’.”

FHC have also been working with Bunurong artist, Adam Megennis from Kaptify, who designed a piece of artwork this year which will be turned into the hockey teams’ NAIDOC round uniform in 2023. Incorporating a dingo, a boomerang that has a similar shape to a hockey stick, and the Maribyrnong River that flows near Footscray, the design is reflective of the club history as well as the land’s cultural history.

“We were really pleased with this year’s event, to see how it grew from last year and Adam’s design already has us very excited so we can’t wait for NAIDOC Week 2023.”

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