NYOONGAR players have provided some of the greatest AFL stars over the past 60 years and now a documentary series profiling the lives and careers of five game-changing champions will have its premiere this month.
Nyoongar Footy Magic director Kelli Cross from Midland said the idea for the series came about in 2005 after a group of selectors chaired by Kevin Sheedy selected an Indigenous Team of the Century, to mark 100 years of Indigenous players in AFL football.
“What surprised everyone was the number of West Australian Indigenous players in the team and in particular the number of Nyoongar players from the south west corner of WA,” she said.
“It triggered a wider realisation that this small Indigenous nation has regularly provided many of the greatest AFL football stars who ever played.”
Cross said the four-part series profiles Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, Barry Cable, Jim and Phil Krakouer and Nicky Winmar and relays their stories of triumph.
“These players are world class athletes with lightning fast reflexes who have energised the sport while bringing national recognition and pride to their people,” she said.
“Footy became a passion for generations trapped in missions, homes and on reserves ready to kick beyond the confines of marginal life and unite the nation through their inspirational passion, power and talent.”
Cross said it was an honour to direct the story of Polly Farmer.
“It was incredible to hear his story from his humble beginnings in foster care to kicking the footy around with just one shoe on, to later becoming a legend of the game and the Nyoongar people,” she said.
Cross said Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, who was born at Swan Districts Hospital and grew up in Northam, was also interviewed for the series.
“Buddy felt really honoured to be in such legendary company,” she said.
“He is well aware of how easy he has it now compared to the fellas before him such as Polly who needed an exemption to train because of the curfew in place that excluded Indigenous people from the city centre after 6pm.
“He takes footy very seriously and like many of the young fellas is a lot more savvy in realising that when footy is over they need a plan.”
Cross said she was proud of the series, a culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work.
“I’m very excited the series is finally coming out after a year of madness.”
Nyoongar Footy Magic is a Beyond West co-production, directed by Cross and Karla Hart and created in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest, Australian Football League and National Indigenous Television.
It premieres on Wednesday, May 30 at 9pm on NITV.