Jumper takes on new mean­ing for coach

Shepparton News - - SPORT - By An­drew John­ston

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.

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