Things are done differently at Red Hill Football Netball Club. Founded in 1929 with the mission to invoke a real sense of belonging for all members of the community, this sporting club’s commitment to inclusivity and well-being shines bright into the future alongside its reconciliation action plan, which was devised over the 2019-20 season. The RAP has been developed over two stages.
Club president Graham Sherry explains: “We just thought it was the right thing to do. We wanted to provide a supportive environment for all young people and encourage the awareness of diversity in the community, and that includes LGBTIQ issues. We acknowledge the Bunurong peoples of the Kulin Nation as the traditional custodians of the lands where we live, so it made sense to develop a plan which supported reconciliation and treaty. Stage 1 of the RAP promoted the appropriate acknowledgement of traditional owners and involved the holding of the first inaugural reconciliation football match among other things. The club has just had our second reconciliation football match, which took place on May 8 at the Red Hill Reserve. It was a great success. The players wore Red Hill FNC reconciliation performance jumpers, and we had a Welcome to Country, a smoking ceremony, didgeridoo players, Indigenous musicians and dancers, and 16 Indigenous elders were present.”
Graham continues: “The Red Hill Football Netball Club is dedicated to promoting and implementing a broad cultural awareness program within the club, which we hope filters out into the wider community. We’ve gained support from the AFL, Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association, and the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.” There is also a long list of sponsors and community partners that make events like the reconciliation footy match possible.
Mental health, well-being and cultural understanding are top priorities at this club where men’s and women’s sport becomes the ultimate equaliser. After all, we are all the same when we get down to the business of playing the game.
Graham concludes: “We had a bit of a setback last year due to COVID-19 but are up and running again with an even stronger determination to involve as many members of the community as possible. We have over 160 players currently at the club, but only a handful of Indigenous players. We are keen to see this change. We would also like to see players with a disability join the club too.” Sounds like a ripper idea. No dropping the ball here.