FOR the first time in its five-year history, the AFLW will host its very first Indigenous Round this week.
For Carlton defender and proud Kamilaroi woman Natalie Plane, the opportunity to bring this special round represents more than just the league’s current Indigenous playing group: it’s the opportunity to inspire a generation of Indigenous female footballers.
Speaking to media at this morning’s Indigenous Round launch, Plane reflected on the importance of role modelling for generations to come.
“For me growing up, I didn’t have too many Indigenous female role models that I could look up to. When it came to sport obviously one of my role models was Cathy Freeman: she was a huge role model for me,” Plane said.
“To have so many girls from each team that are Indigenous in the competition, they’re all these powerful strong women that these young girls get to look up to. I think it’s really important.”
Relishing in the opportunity to speak about her own culture, Plane was thrilled with the celebration and learning opportunity an AFLW Indigenous Round enables.
“You look at the men’s round and it’s so loved by Indigenous people and non-Indigenous, so just to have one in our own competition is really exciting,” she said.
“It’s a chance for me and all the other Indigenous girls to celebrate our families and where we’re from, but also celebrate our culture and to start to drive conversation in communities – I think that’s also really important.”
The AFLW Blues will run out in their inaugural Indigenous guernsey designed by 18-year-old artist Ky-ya Nicholson-Ward.
“She’s an amazing young artist, she’s only 18 and this is one of the many guernseys in high level sport that she’s designed,” she said.
“She actually sent me the picture before she sent it to the club and I literally called her straight away and just said ‘It is so amazing’.
“To see the actual guernsey in real life a couple of weeks ago, it just looks even better so I’m really excited to play in it.”