Tyrell Dewar celebrates a goal during West Coast's clash against Collingwood in round nine, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

TYRELL Dewar's eyes light up when he thinks back to Sir Doug Nicholls Round in 2022. Not yet an AFL player, it was a round when the small forward was still able to represent his people and perform on an AFL stage, just in a different way.

A student at Wesley College in Perth, Dewar was part of his school's Moorditj Mob, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program that helps students celebrate and share their culture through cultural dance, didgeridoo playing, language, and working with local elders. 

The group had fostered Dewar's enjoyment of cultural dance through its regular performances, and the teenager pushed to be part of a special Welcome to Country ahead of the Eagles' clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 10. 

Two years on and Dewar, a Wongi, Noongar, Yamatji boy from Kalgoorlie in WA's Goldfields Region, is about to represent his people in Sir Doug Nicholls Round again, only this time it will be as an AFL player.

It will be a special achievement for the 20-year-old when Waalitj Marawar takes on Narrm on Sunday, coming one week after he made his debut at the top level, with Dewar this week thinking back to his performance in 2022 and the fire it helped stoke.

"That was a wicked experience, and I just thought hopefully one day I'll be here watching other blokes dance and then representing my culture on the field and showing off what I'm doing," Dewar told AFL.com.au.

West Coast young gun Tyrell Dewar (right). Picture: Supplied by Wesley College

"Now to be playing in Sir Doug Nicholls Round means a lot to me, especially representing my culture and where I'm from.

"That was one of the aims that I set about a month ago and it'd mean a lot to just run out there in that wicked guernsey … I'm really looking forward to it."

Dewar moved from Kalgoorlie to Perth as a 13-year-old to attend Wesley College and quickly found cultural dance was an enjoyable way to stay connected to his culture and learn. 

Loved at the Eagles now for his energetic and joking nature, it was also a way for him to express himself in different ways. 

Tyrell Dewar kicks for goal during West Coast's clash against Collingwood in round nine, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"I've been dancing since like year nine up until year 12 and I loved every minute of it, just being able to wear the paint and stay really connected to my culture as well," he said. 

"That night [at Optus Stadium] was a spirit dance, which was cleansing the area and getting rid of all the bad spirits, and hopefully making it a good game. And then doing the kangaroo and emu dance as well, just to represent my animal totems. 

"One of the dances is called Nyumbi, which is the celebration dance. I don't think we did that before the Bulldogs game, but that's a really good one that helps me express myself."

Hawthorn premiership player Chance Bateman is the Eagles' Indigenous player development manager and has seen the importance of First Nations players staying connected to their culture through different stages, including after joining AFL clubs. 

While Dewar used cultural dance during school, Bateman said young Eagles ruckman Coen Livingstone was now studying Noongar language as a way to connect more with his background and culture.

"Whenever you talk about connection to culture it's usually through dance or language or song, so the opportunity for these young boys to get involved in it connects them straight into their culture that's been around tens of thousands of years," Bateman told AFL.com.au


"That's really unique, it's really special and it's really important for young First Nations players.

"I work with a whole network of other Indigenous player development managers, and it's all about sharing ideas and sharing knowledge … and that connection to country and connection to culture comes out all the time.

"So those little touch points for players that may have moved away from home or to the other side of the country, being able to connect back through dance, through song or through ceremony is really important."

Dewar's family was onboard for last Sunday's debut against Collingwood at Marvel Stadium, which saw the young Eagle kick his first AFL goal after a fast emergence this year.


The small forward's rise was kickstarted after Christmas when he received a pep talk on professionalism from coach Adam Simpson, prompting him to work harder and push purposefully towards making his debut. 

A product of the Eagles' Next Generation Academy, he is now helping teach young players in the program while he builds his own career. 

"I just talk about my journey, where I came from, what I've done to get here and what's helped me a lot," Dewar said. 

"I let them know that it's not that easy, but just telling the boys what I do now and how it's all going can give them a bit of an insight if they do come in."