WITH round three locked away, almost, Yokayi Footy is really hitting its straps. With the game back on, the show is finally making its mark both on and off the field and for that we should be extremely grateful.
If Yokayi Footy was a footballer, it would be Matthew Rowell, the three-game midfielder from the Gold Coast Suns who has literally set the footy world on fire. Like Rowell, Yokayi Footy arrived with little fanfare and then had the mother of all interruptions in the form of COVID-19.
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Yet, with three actual AFL games under their collective belts it seems anything is possible for both the show and the young Sun.
With Bianca Hunt's opening monologue on Sam Newman, one gets the feeling that within the football world things are changing.
Newman, having been the cornerstone of Channel Nine's The Footy Show as the resident provocateur is now on his way through the football equivalent of the gift shop. It must rankle that a show like Yokayi Footy is here and the 'bread and circuses' schtick of The Footy Show has given way to something more, dare I say it, decent.
The main guest this week was the incredibly thoughtful and insightful Andrew Krakouer. For a man who has clawed his way back from the brink of the abyss, having been to jail for assault, football has been Krakouer's redemptive lifeline.
In saying this, we as fans have been the beneficiaries of Krakouers resilience and application to his craft. If you don't believe me, watch the 2010 WAFL grand final on YouTube. Speaking honestly about the issues at his old club Collingwood regarding the Heritier Lumumba allegations, Krakouer was clear; he heard what Lumumba claims occurred.
For Krakouer, this is not about dwelling in the negative, but for Lumumba to be listened too, moving forward and education. Education is knowing, knowledge is power, and power enables change.
Krakouer went on to dissect the round three games with intelligence, spoke of Eddie Betts contributions both on and off the ground with respect and referred to his father Jimmy's classic 1980's woollen jumper for North Melbourne with pride and joy. I don't know about you, but this is what football shows can do. Inform, entertain and educate. It's why the old footy formula looks so dated by comparison and it's why they have gone the way of woollen guernseys and 'the torp'.
Keeping with the North Melbourne theme, Hunt interviewed Yorta Yorta man Jy Simpkin. Having played 50-odd games, Simpkin is in the Roo's leadership group. It is rare for a First Nations player to be selected for these roles, but the fact Simpkin has only just started his career it speaks volumes for him as a person and his standing in the club.
Perhaps it was the racism Simpkin was subjected to at boarding school where his identity came into question. He chose to draw down on his and his communities' resilience rather than become affected by others and their ignorance. It was definitely a Yokayi moment.
This week's community football story was the package of the AFLW game between Pioneer and Alkamilya in Alice Springs at Traeger Park. It saw Simon Hargrave, the AFLNT's community manager for Central Australia speak of the importance of the game in Alice Springs.
This was backed up Pioneer senior women's coach Sheralee Taylor and Pioneer player Janaya Koop both interviewed. They were both over the moon as the light in Koop's eyes was palpable. The return of footy to her and the other women in the community is immense.
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Finally, the great Lions utility Darryl White was beamed in from Brisbane. With his unique take on the round three games, it was revealed that not only had White played on Traeger Park but was also a green keeper at one point proving his versatility in life - not just on the footy field. White predicted with the Deadliest coming to a grand final head with Polly Farmer and Andrew McLeod vying for the honours, that he was going to go with the Crows star midfielder over the Cats game-changer. All will be revealed in due course.
Switching off the TV, I sat and reflected on the episode. What I had watched was not a bunch of tired ex-players taking the piss out of one another, but a celebration of the code and the people in it. For too long the blokey banter consisted of making fun of people who could not defend themselves, and we failed to ask a simple question: "What are we laughing at?"
As Hunt says, 'entertainment underpinned by bigotry' is not entertainment at all, it's something else. But we have always known that we just had to wait for the laughter to die down to start asking the question. Round four. Yokayi Footy versus Bigotry. B. Hunt. 3 Votes.
>> Dr Sean Gorman is an author, historian, and Indigenous AFL specialist. He currently works for the AFL and was the lead investigator in the AFL's review of its vilification laws.