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AFL extends Sir Doug Nicholls Round until 2020

Members of Sir Doug Nicholls' family (l-r: Clayton Murray-Mitchell, Robert Nicholls, Pamela Pedersen and Gary Murray) join AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to sign the agreement - AFL
Members of Sir Doug Nicholls' family (l-r: Clayton Murray-Mitchell, Robert Nicholls, Pamela Pedersen and Gary Murray) join AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan to sign the agreement

THE AFL has officially committed to naming its indigenous showpiece the Sir Doug Nicholls Round for the next two years.

The League has honoured Nicholls during the indigenous round since 2016 and is expected to continue to do so for time immemorial, but it has now formalised an agreement with The Nicholls Foundation to pay tribute to him until at least 2020.

On the 112th anniversary of Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls' birth, AFL chief executive officer Gillon McLachlan signed the agreement with members of the late Nicholls' family. 

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"Sir Doug Nicholls was a pioneer when it came to reconciliation. Along with this, it was his passion for and commitment to Australian football which helped bring together the many other significant achievements in his life," McLachlan said.

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Nicholls Foundation chairperson Gary Murray, a grandson of Nicholls, said the agreement not only recognised the achievements of one of the most significant indigenous leaders in history, but it also strengthened a growing indigenous partnership with the AFL.

"Pastor Doug would be more than proud of these developments to further enhance his work," Murray said.

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Nicholls, who died in 1988 at 81, remarkably rose to prominence after being raised on the Cummeragunja Aboriginal mission in southern New South Wales, where he learned to play football barefoot and was virtually illiterate.

A man of many firsts for his people, the universally admired Nicholls was a talented sportsman who became the first Aboriginal to represent Victoria in football, the first to be knighted (for "distinguished services to the advancement of the Aboriginal people") and the first to hold a vice-regal office (as Governor of South Australia).

He is also the first person to have an AFL round named after them.

In another sign of the esteem in which Nicholls is held in the broader community, search engine giant Google recognised his birthday with a tribute on its homepage on Sunday.