Narkle Sees Sport as Uniting ForceNewsletter
Young star Quinton Narkle is happy to be back playing the game he loves after the disruption caused by COVID-19. The talented midfielder was drafted to Geelong Football Club at the age of 18, leaving his home town Perth, to relocate to Geelong and pursue his dream of playing in the AFL.
Quinton, proud of his Indigenous heritage, is a Wajak Balardung Noongar man. He grew up in a big, close-knit family and remembers playing footy with his brothers and cousins as a young boy. He didn’t think he was very good at football when he was young and didn’t really enjoy watching AFL until he was older. Nonetheless, footy was a big part of his life, with his uncle, Leon Davis playing for Collingwood until 2011, and his family’s huge passion for the sport cementing his lifelong connection to Australian rules football.
Quinton says he was a late-bloomer and developed his football skills as he went through high school. He admired midfield players such as Nat Fyfe and Dane Swan and found Indigenous players like Buddy Franklin and Cyril Rioli mesmerizing to watch. As his skills grew it became clear he had significant talent and he was picked up by the WA state team.
After he played what he describes as a “pretty good” season in 2016 with WA, Quinton was ecstatic to be selected at pick 60 in the 2016 AFL draft by Geelong.
Wise beyond his 22 years, Quinton believes family and culture are the most important things in life. The hardest part for him over the last few months of restrictions has been not being able to see family, especially his grandfather, and close friends.
The Geelong Football Club has been supportive of Quinton personally and professionally. Using his artistic flair, Quinton designed the club’s 2019 Indigenous guernsey. It’s a club that has a long history of Indigenous players and currently includes five Indigenous players.
The club recognises and values the special place Indigenous people have in the history of our nation and the game of AFL. Amongst Geelong Football Club’s key initiatives is the delivery of the ‘Djilang Program’ which brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from across the Barwon South West region with their Indigenous players to explore and celebrate their shared history, culture and connection.
Quinton’s team mates have been willing to learn from him about his heritage and culture. Many players were not taught much about Indigenous history and culture at school, but they feel it’s really important for all Australians to learn about it. Quinton says the most important thing we can do as a society is to educate our young people at school about Indigenous history, language and culture. Only through education can there be an end to racism and inequality. He says that casual racism is the most common form of racism and it’s usually perpetrated by people who don’t understand the issues Indigenous people face.
The last couple of weeks have been hard for Quinton as he’s watched the Black Lives Matter movement gain momentum in Australia. He felt bad that he couldn’t be with his family, who took part in the movement. With over 400 black deaths in custody in Australia since 1991, sadly, we have our own shameful history of police brutality against Indigenous Australians. Quinton would have joined the protestors had it not been during a pandemic. However, he was proud that Geelong players “took a knee” before the game against Hawthorn last week in solidarity with the BLM movement. Quinton said the whole club was supportive of this gesture and he just wouldn’t have felt true to himself had he not acknowledged BLM in some way.
Sport is a great way to bring communities together and foster understanding between cultures. Quinton believes that the AFL has introduced some positive initiatives to help educate people about Indigenous culture and promote respect for Indigenous people. AFL club players and staff continue to take part in cultural awareness training and education and this can only enhance our great, unifying, Australian game.
AFL official statement in support of the Black Lives Matter pre-game gesture:
As AFL clubs, we have an opportunity to use our platforms to promote a more equal society. We are united in the fight against racism and tonight is a demonstration of that. As clubs, we will continue to listen, learn and educate ourselves and support our Indigenous brothers and sisters as we work towards being part of the solution.
This story was originally published in Libby's June Newsletter. Please click here to subscribe to the email newsletter.Share Tweet