The Indigenous Influence

Subiaco have maintained a rich Indigenous history throughout their past and we aim to celebrate our connection with the original land owners with NAIDOC Round this week.

The Indigenous influence on the game in the present cannot be understated but it also played a vital role in the fledgling years of our great game.
It is said that the origins date back to the mid-1800’s with founder Tom Wills collaborating with Indigenous communities in a Western district of Victoria. The game evolved from an adaptation of rugby and the local Indigenous game “marngrook”, with the culmination of the two cultures creating the foundation for Australia Rules Football.
As we return focus to the present; AFL is undoubtedly one of the most unique games in the world and Indigenous Subiaco player and Community Engagement Officer Adam Cockie believes the integration between the two cultures will only continue further.

“I think the Indigenous influence wasn’t as notable in the past but it’s definitely a highlight of the game today. There’s a solid percentage of indigenous footballers emerging and contributing, especially from Western Australia,
“One of the greatest ever Indigenous ambassadors was Polly Farmer, it’s a widespread acknowledgement that Polly was one of the greatest players to play the game and he set a great example for Indigenous kids on and off the field in the early years.” Added Cockie
SFC line-up before the NAIDOC fixture last year. Ryan and Cockie (far right) will toss the coin against Perth.
Cockie grew up in a golden era of WA football with the West Coast Eagles emerging and players like the Materas' and Chris Lewis gaining national attention. Adam ended up representing the Eagles during his career and also acknowledged the input from his parents, Michael & Lisa.

“When I was growing up my favourite player was Peter Matera, and I loved Chris Lewis as a massive Eagles fan. It was amazing seeing those guys play the game with natural instinct on the biggest stage,
“In regards to myself I would say my biggest influence was my parents, especially my mum who did all the hard stuff, getting me to the games and my father, who showed me the discipline required to play footy during his time at South Fremantle.” Said Cockie.
Loyalty to family and heritage is a common feature present amongst Indigenous footballers. Through thick and thin they remain connected to their origins and it’s no different for Subi high-flyer Liam Ryan.
“I grew up with my dad and my uncles playing football so they were a big influence. As I got older the support only grew and it was amazing to be able to play alongside my dad at Rovers in Geraldton before coming to Perth.” said Ryan
His dad Darren “Snotty” Ryan was a WAFL footballer for Claremont in the 1970’s and Liam credits his fathers' support as a role model to his progress in Perth.
“He’s a good role model to look up to and the family try to make as many games as possible and are hoping to see more this year.” Added Ryan
When asked if he was a different type of player to his dad, Liam decided to remain humble.

“I wouldn’t say he played that different, just better, he was a pretty exciting player.” Added Ryan
Liam Ryan has been a star since moving to Perth to play for Subiaco in 2015. 
As we look towards another NAIDOC Round fixture it’s important to acknowledge how far society has come in regards to integration whilst maintaining a firm focus on progress in the future.

SFC’s Adam Cockie elaborated on a monumental drop off of Indigenous players between colts and senior football and believes better funding and program development can help improve the culture’s well-being on and off the field heading forwards.
“The awareness and funding comes down through the AFL but you’re seeing an increased emphasis coming from the district and local leagues. We’re trying to educate and grow them as young men so they stay engaged,

“The biggest thing is funding. The more funding we get translates into opportunity. We have programs that are going really well but if we want to improve them we need the support behind it. Kids will stay more engaged when we are able to access more resources.” Added Cockie
The Subiaco Football Club are proud of all the different cultures and backgrounds who have contributed to our great game and Saturday provides a perfect opportunity to acknowledge the influence of the traditional land owners.

Regardless of which colour or creed you originate from, we can come together to celebrate the things that make AFL one of the greatest games in the world. 

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