Jumper takes on new meaning for coach
Football might have taken Andrew Walker away from country for a long time, with those in Echuca-Moama watching his AFL career go from potential to proven.
And when this stellar run with Carlton finally came to an end for Walker, it would prove to be anything but that.
Today Echuca’s footballers, including cocoach and team mate Walker, will run onto Victoria Park in an indigenous strip — a first for the Goulburn Valley League.
At the same time, the netballers will also step onto the courts in a matching outfit, a combined moment Walker is quite emotional about.
For him it will be a fitting highlight and culmination of NAIDOC Week, a week which has showcased his people, Yorta Yorta.
‘‘It’s incredibly important to me,’’ Walker said.
‘‘Echuca’s the place that I grew up. I spent 17 years here playing football with this club as a young man.
‘‘They gave me the opportunities to play and to learn about the game.
‘‘So being able to tie something so special to my family and my indigenous heritage to the Echuca Football Netball Club, which is really my other family, was something that was always in the back of my mind when I took on this role,’’ he said.
Walker worked with Yorta Yorta artist Clive Atkinson to design a jumper which represents the story of indigenous culture in and around Echuca-Moama.
The design features three wavy lines for the three rivers — Goulburn, Murray and Campaspe — an important symbol within Yorta Yorta culture.
In keeping with the tradition of the club, its monogram, over the hearts of its players, has been recreated in the style of the Aboriginal f lag.
Walker said it was important for the jumper to reflect Yorta Yorta culture for all indigenous people of Echuca.
‘‘I wanted to make this special for the local indigenous players and families to share the story of the Yorta Yorta people,’’ he said.
‘‘It has been a wonderful project to be involved with, and it is something that I am quite passionate about.’’
And NAIDOC week provided the perfect platform for the unveiling of his dream.
‘‘NAIDOC Week is a significant time,’’ Walker said.
‘‘It brings our indigenous community together and recognises what we as a community have contributed to our great country.
‘‘For someone like my pop, who is 90 in two weeks, it’s an important week, as it is for all indigenous families throughout the country, so to have this at the end of it can be something very special.’’
Proud: Echuca playing-coach Andrew Walker models the indigenous inspired jumper the side will wear against Seymour today.