West Coast will don its striking Indigenous guernsey during the club’s Saturday afternoon clash with Sydney to acknowledge NAIDOC Week.
The annual week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait history, culture and achievements typically takes place during the first week of July, but it has been postponed to November 8-15 this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In spite of the date change, which was put in place to protect elders and those in the community suffering from chronic health conditions, West Coast wants to honour the occasion and Australia’s first people, who have played a significant role in the club’s on- and off-field success over the past 33 years.
Thirty-three Aboriginal athletes have represented the Eagles throughout the club’s history, including premiership players Peter Matera, Chris Lewis, David Wirrpanda, Lewis Jetta, Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan.
Five of West Coast’s current Aboriginal stars were on show last week when Jetta, Ryan, Tim Kelly, Brendon Ah Chee and club debutant Jamaine Jones took the field against Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium.
That marked the ninth occasion the Eagles have fielded a club record-equalling five Aboriginal players in a single game.
Off the field the club has a proud history of celebrating Aboriginal culture.
West Coast was the first club in the AFL to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan and it continuously connects with metropolitan, regional and remote Aboriginal communities thanks to the support of its valued Inclusion and Diversity Partner, BHP.
The club’s current Indigenous guernsey has a unique and powerful story attached to it.
Designed by artist Darryl Bellotti, our ‘Wings of an Eagle’ jumper is inspired by traditional Aboriginal ceremonial practice.
“Song, dance and ceremony are an essential part of Aboriginal culture,” Bellotti said.
“It’s how we pay tribute to the land and spirit of our ancestors.
“Ceremonial dress features ochre and feathers, sometimes with a feathered headdress, on the dancer’s body.
“On the guernsey, feathered wings wrap around the player like a ‘Booka’, a traditional kangaroo skin cloak.
“The white lines are song lines to the sacred ceremonial area. The three circles located in the ‘heart’ of the guernsey.
“The circles depict the coaching and playing group in the centre, support staff surrounding them, and the supporters around the outside.
“Patterns like this were drawn in the sand during ceremonies, similar to the white lines of a football field.”
Our 2020 Indigenous guernsey is available for pre-order at the West Coast Eagles Superstore - https://www.wceteamstore.com.au/
Pre-order before 12pm (AWST) on Tuesday, June 30 and you can take 25% off the price of the guernsey.