“The circles represent all the towns that we covered on the journey, the tracks and all the miles that were covered,” said Apma-Atkinson. “It was a journey that changed my life as well.”
The dominant colours used are red and black – Essendon’s colours – but also represent Indigenous people. “The black is our people, the red is the land.”
Designed by star forward Daniel Rioli, with the help of his parents Bradley Rioli and Belinda Punguatji, the yellow and black jumper is set to celebrate the Rioli family and their involvement with the club.
“I went home for Christmas and mum and dad, who are the artists of the family, were able to start drawing it along with my ideas,” said Daniel, whose totem, the turtle, appears twice on the jumper.
The guernsey will also feature messaging in support for the progression of the treaty movement in Victoria, as Dreamtime at the ‘G will take place as Indigenous Victorians are enrolling for a vote to determine the makeup of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, which will help create the framework for Treaty negotiations.
Footy player and emerging artist Quinton Narkle designed this year’s Indigenous guernsey to be worn as Geelong come up against Gold Coast this weekend.
The snake pattern symbolises the rainbow serpent, often seen as the “great life giver” in Aboriginal dreaming stories. The seven segments of the serpent represent the languages of all seven Geelong Indigenous players – Barkindji, Iwaidja, Noongar, Ngarrindjeri, Wajuk, Larrakia and Yidinjdji.
The number five that features on the front and back of the jumper pays tribute to Polly Farmer, retired AFL legend who is known for revolutionising ruckwork and handballing over his 101 games played for the Cats. He also captained the team for three seasons.
Former Crows champion Andrew McLeod’s design showcases his Torres Strait Islander culture, with the jumper centring around a depiction of the Dhoeri.
“The Dhoeri is usually made of feathers, which represents your family or clan or tribal group, but we replaced them with the 18 tuna which represents the players,” McLeod said, who played 340 games for the Crows.
Yankunytjatjara and Wirangu woman Shelley Ware designed Carlton’s guernsey.
“The guernsey features the sun on the players’ left shoulder, the giver of life.
“I included my totem, the Wedge-tailed Eagle, to watch over and keep them safe. Across the back, you can see ancestors in the stars, showing those who led the way before them and now watch over and guide the players,” she said.
6. St Kilda
Created in partnership with Emily Long, this hand-drawn design represents the history of the Long family and the totems of their people.
The front depicts the family’s paternal ancestors, the Anmatyere people from Ti Tree in the Northern Territory and the back represents the maternal ancestry, the Maranunggu people from Daly River.
“I only recently started drawing as a way to learn more and feel a deeper connection to my family’s history,” said Long.
7. Brisbane Lions
Designed by Birri Gubba-Barada Ghungullu-Darumbul man Derek Oram, the Brisbane Lions’ jumper is an ode to the club’s four Indigenous players and their totems – Allen Christensen (flying fox), Cedric Cox (lizard), Charlie Camero (goanna) and Ally Anderson (emu) – each from different parts of the country.
Oram’s design was painted by hand on two canvases, for the front and back of the guernsey, with the Lions’ colours blended into the mountains.
The Demons’ 2019 simple blue and red guernsey was illustrated by Mary Young, a local artist from Santa Teresa, a community of about 400 people located 80 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs.
“The Boomerang shape represents tradition and strength, and respect for the traditional Melbourne Football Club jumper,” said Young.
“The circles are groups of men coming together as one and the line at bottom represents the linking of us all. The design down the side of jumper represents country.”
Artist Lea-Anne Miller is Collingwood forward Travis Varcoe’s sister-in-law and was commissioned to design the black and white artwork for Collingwood.
The inner circle represents the players, and the dots around them are those who support the team – family, friends and fans. The outer circle and dots represent people coming together from different places within the diverse Collingwood community.
Former player Troy Cook was asked to design the jumper and chose to enlist childhood friend and artist Victor Belotti to help.
The pair grew up in Carnarvon, Western Australia, near the Gascoyne River and the intersection of the area’s climate and landforms are what inspired the design.
“It [Gascoyne River] was a playground for us. When it rains, it brings the whole place to life,” said Cook.
11. Gold Coast Suns
Designed by Yugambeh man Luther Cora, the jumper represents totems from five of the current Gold Coast players who are Indigenous – Jack Martin, Izak Rankine, Sean Lemmens (flying fox), Callum AhChee (sand plain wallaby), Jarrod Harbrow.
“We sat down and went through how it best reflects the players and their families and the Gold Coast community,” said games record holder Jarrod Harbrow, whose totem, the Yirriganydji jellyfish, features prominently on the front.
Based on artwork by Wiradjuri woman Leeanne Hunter, the design called ‘Football Dreaming’ depicts a football on the front, while the hands surrounding it represent the many hands who help coordinate and support the team and its players.
The back features a large circle that represents the club as the meeting place, with the footprints to illustrate the football player’s journey.
Painted by Jennifer “Lulu” Coombes and inspired by former star player Cyril Rioli, Hawthorn’s design features two prominent aspects of the Tiwi Island culture, Pukumani Poles – commonly used in ceremonies and placed around graves to protect the dead from evil spirits – and the Kulama ceremony – a three-day ritual that occurs at the beginning of the dry season.
The back is emblazoned with the words “Ngawa Puranji Yiloga”, which translate to “we love our footy”.
14. North Melbourne
Designed by Mok artist Lorraine Kabbindi White, the jumper features totems from each of its Indigenous players – the honey ant (Jed Anderson), goanna (Paul Ahern), turtle (Jy Simpkin) and water (Kyron Hayden).
The design also features the Rainbow Serpent, or Ngalyod, as well as Arden Street, the club’s home, is featured through a blue oval on the back.
Six blue bands run vertically representing the main rivers and water from each of the players’ home country.
15. Port Adelaide
Rising star Sam Powell-Pepper designed this guernsey, using patterns to highlight the contributions of the 16 Indigenous players at the club. Those patterns have been placed among 46 teal and white dots, representing the players at the club.
Goanna tracks in the teal V of the jumper represent the artist’s totem in Western Australia. Also near the V are the waters which run through Port Adelaide, acknowledging the waterway’s importance to the Kaurna people whom the land traditionally belongs to.
Artist Cheryl Davison explains the dreamtime story of the prominent feature of the guernsey – the swan, Guunyu – that is attacked for its beauty and later saved by the crow.
“In the dreamtime lived a beautiful white swan. It was graceful and elegant and had beautiful white feathers, amongst all the birds the swan was the most beautiful,” she said.
17. West Coast
Designed by prominent Western Australian Aboriginal artist Darryl Bellotti, the “Wings of an Eagle” artwork depicts feathers wrapping around the player like a “Booka”, a traditional kangaroo skin cloak.
The white lines represent song lines to sacred ceremonial areas. Such patterns were often drawn in the sand during traditional ceremonies, similar to the white lines of a football field.
“The story is more in line with older traditions, especially around culture and ceremonial practice,” Belotti explained.
18. Western Bulldogs
Brett Goodes was selected in the 2012 rookie draft and saw a quick transition from VFL to AFL in his debut year. Brother to Adam Goodes, Brett wore a number of hats in the club, from player welfare manager to Ballarat’s engagement manager. But he always saw footy as a way give back to his community.
This year’s Western Bulldogs’ jumper, designed by artist Nathan Patterson, tells Brett’s story and his love of family – as shown by the four figures sitting around a campfire at the bottom of the jumper.
Charlotte is a reporter for The Age.