THE AFL proudly launched the ninth Sir Doug Nicholls Round across the country today, which will be held across Round 10 and Round 11 of the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership Season. 

The round begins in Darwin this season with Gold Coast and Geelong facing off and will be headlined by the annual Dreamtime at the 'G match and Marn Grook Game at the SCG. 

There are 71 current AFL players who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. A full list can be accessed here.

Each year with support of the Nicholls family, Sir Doug Nicholls Round pays tribute to an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has contributed to the game and community.

As announced at the 2024 AFL Season Launch, this year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round honouree is Sonny Morey – a proud Eastern Arrernte man who played 213 games with Central District Football Club and was a 2023 inductee in the SANFL Hall of Fame.

2024 SDNR Honouree Sonny Morey with current Central Districts indigenous players Isaih Dudley, Letisha Ackland, Mihail Lochowiak, Jyearah Newchurch and Anzac Lochowiak, during the 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round Launch. Picture: AFL Photos

The theme of this year's Sir Doug Nicholls Round is 'Spirit Strong, Game On', which recognises the resilience and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The theme also honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's traditions, enduring spirit, and ongoing impact and legacy they have in Australian Rules Football and society.

AFL Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy Tanya Hosch said she was looking forward to seeing 'Spirit Strong, Game On' reflected across the 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

"Sir Doug Nicholls round has become one of the jewels of the AFL fixture as it is a chance to celebrate the black excellence that we’ve seen on the footy field for generations," Ms. Hosch said. 

"Spirit Strong, Game On reflects the incredible resilience that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always shown in this country. The theme resonated with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander playing group as a reflection of their courage, determination and strength.

"To have Sonny Morey as the Sir Doug Nicholls Round honouree is wonderful.

"Sonny has made a massive contribution to Australian Rules Football in South Australia and, like all other previous honourees, is someone who has given a lot to his community. He loves footy and is a brilliant example for how footy can be a vehicle for leadership and community good."

Andrew Dillon and Tanya Hosch speak during the 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round Launch at Central Districts Football Club. Picture: AFL Photos


Sonny Morey is the sixth person to be named as an honouree during Sir Doug Nicholls Round, joining Glenn James OAM (2023), Bill Dempsey (2022), Syd Jackson (2021 & 2020), Michael Long OAM (2019) and Graham 'Polly' Farmer (2018).

Morey was born in 1945 at Yambah Station near Alice Springs. Before moving to Adelaide, Morey was forcefully removed from his family twice by government officials.

He was one of the Central District's first competing players and club's first player to register a kick in the SANFL.

Morey started his career as a wing where he won the club's best and fairest in 1970, before moving to the back pocket when he was runner up to Malcolm Blight in the League’s best and fairest two years later.

Morey was named in the Central District’s Best Team of 1964-2003 and in the SANFL’s Aboriginal Team of the Ages as a back-pocket and coach.

2024 SDNR Honouree Sonny Morey with Izak Rankine and Jase Burgoyne during the 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round Launch at Central Districts Football Club. Picture: AFL Photos

Club name changes

A third of all AFL clubs will change their names to translations in Traditional Owner's language across Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

The Adelaide Crows will be known as Kuwarna (pronounced goo-wun-na), St Kilda will be known as Euro-Yroke (pronounced yoo-roe yoo-roe-ck), and the West Coast Eagles will be known as Waalitj Marawar (pronounced wah-litch mara-wah) for the first time.

For the second consecutive year, Fremantle will be known as Walyalup (pronounced wul-yul-up) and Port Adelaide will be Yartapuuliti (pronounced Yarta–pole-tee), while Melbourne will be known as Narrm (pronounced na-arm) for the third consecutive year.

Kuwarna is the Kaurna translation for the word 'crows' and Euro-Yroke is the Boon Wurrung translation for 'St Kilda'. Waalitj Marawar means 'Eagle of the West' in the local Noongar language.

Narrm derives from the Woi Wurrung language meaning Melbourne, Walyalup is the Noongar name for the Fremantle region, and Yartapuulti comes from the Kaurna language meaning the land surrounding the Port River.

Pronunciations of the clubs' names can be accessed here.

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon said he was proud to see the footy – from a community level to the elite – come together to celebrate Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

"I'm proud to see the entire AFL community come together for the ninth Sir Doug Nicholls Round," Mr Dillon said.

"This round is about more than just footy; it's about reflection and a celebration of the resilience and enduring spirit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – both on and off the field.

"It's great to see the AFL community come together and celebrate the contribution of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, along with the hundreds of community clubs that will celebrate with in their own Indigenous Rounds across the country."

2024 will be the 18th year the AFL has held a dedicated round to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the ninth year it has been named in honour of Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls.

Sir Doug Nicholls is a Yorta Yorta man born on Cummeragunja mission in New South Wales in 1906. He played VFL for Fitzroy in the 1930s before becoming a Pastor and leader for Aboriginal reconciliation in Australia.

He went on to become the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to be knighted and hold the position of Governor of South Australia.

Sir Doug Nicholls' daughter Aunty Pam Pedersen OAM said the round was a proud moment for her family.

"Our family is incredibly proud of the AFL’s ongoing acknowledgment of my father's contribution to Australia Rules Football and his advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," Aunty Pam said.

Sherrin design

The match ball for the 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round has been designed by Ben Nabea Davis – a proud Torres Strait Islander man from Saibai and Waiben Islands who grew up in Maroubra, Sydney. 

The word 'Sherrin' will be replaced on one panel with Koethuka Kakur which is the Kala Kawaw Ya (Saibai Island dialect) translation for 'ball'.

Davis currently works in the AFL's Football Operations team as the Indigenous Talent Programs Lead. He is a former AFL and current VFL player and previously designed the Adelaide Crows' 2021 AFL Sir Doug Nicholls Round guernsey.

"The Sherrin design tells the story of connection through our game. Connection that reaches through time and out to all walks of life," Mr. Davis said.

"It speaks about the Indigenous men and women of our game before us that helped build it to where it is, and how through their struggles they have now given us a platform to stand on.

"It also represents how our generation will one day pass on leadership to our future generations."

Sherrin footy’s are seen during the 2024 Sir Doug Nicholls Round launch at the MCG. Picture: AFL Photos

Club guernsey

Once again, all 18 AFL clubs will wear their own specifically designed Indigenous guernseys across Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

Each club has worked closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to design guernseys that tell stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s culture, history, traditions, and resilience.  

Umpire uniform design

All AFL Umpires will wear uniforms celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures that have been designed by Noongar Wandandi Boodja man and AFL umpire, Joshua James. 

The artwork on the uniform is called ‘Moorditj Koondarm which means “Strong Dreams” in Noongar language. It also includes the dreamtime story of James and the ambitions of Aboriginal people.

"The story behind the artwork is to showcase how strong, resilient and self-determined Aboriginal people are and the unity of people coming together from all around Australia regardless of peoples' skin colour, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs," Mr. James said.