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Indigenous Leaders & Awards

The AFL Dreamtime game is a standout event in the Australian Football League (AFL) season, symbolising a significant celebration of Indigenous Australian culture within the sport. Held annually since 2005 during the AFL's Indigenous Round—officially named the Sir Doug Nicholls Round—it features a match between Essendon Football Club and Richmond Football Club. The game is staged at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which transforms into a vibrant canvas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, drawing massive crowds and wide television viewership.

The origins of the Dreamtime game are deeply rooted in recognising and celebrating the profound impact Indigenous players have had on the AFL. The game was inspired by Essendon's former player and coach, Kevin Sheedy, who envisioned the match as a platform to honour the contributions of Indigenous athletes to the league. The name 'Dreamtime' refers to the Aboriginal understanding of the world's creation, known as 'The Dreaming', which is a critical element of Aboriginal spirituality, culture, and lore.

Each year, the event commences with the 'Dreamtime at the 'G' spectacle - a pre-game ceremony filled with traditional dances, music and storytelling, performed by Indigenous artists. This display not only serves as an enthralling cultural showcase but also educates and engages the broader public in Indigenous heritage and issues. The guernseys worn by the players are specially designed, often by Indigenous artists, to reflect traditional stories and symbols.

Apart from its cultural significance, the Dreamtime game is also a fiercely contested match, given the strong rivalry between Essendon and Richmond. It has grown beyond just a game, embodying a movement for reconciliation, education and community inclusivity. This event has become a vital part of the AFL calendar, not only for its sports spectacle but also for its role in fostering greater understanding and respect for Australia's Indigenous communities.

Dreamtime at the 'G Highlights