The AFLPA’s biannual Indigenous Camp, which was held from 29 January to 2 February, brought together Indigenous stars from all over the AFL to celebrate and strengthen their cultural identity.

Seven Fremantle players attended, and the experience was invaluable for each of them.

The Fremantle boys benefitted enormously from the opportunity to meet with other Indigenous players from around the country. The kinship between them was evident.

They spent a lot of time discussing cultural issues and generating suggestions about how services for Indigenous players could be improved within the individual clubs and the AFL as a whole.

The players displayed a great amount of emotion when talking about the history of their people and the War Cry that they performed as a group was proud and powerful.

Being able to learn from each other and see the leadership skills shown by some of the legends of the game, such as Adam Goodes, Michael O’Loughlin and Andrew McLeod, was immensely valuable for all in attendance.

Much of the discussion that took place in the forums was about how to educate others and promote a better understanding of Indigenous culture within both football environments and the wider community.

Ideas were generated about increasing the celebrations associated with the Indigenous Round (Round 9) and an Indigenous Advisory Board is being established through the AFLPA with representatives from each of the states to ensure that the players have a collective voice.

The feedback from the Fremantle players was universally positive and they all enjoyed and valued the experience.

Michael “Son Son” Walters was a part of the Freo contingent that travelled east and said he had gained plenty from the experience.

“The main messages were to not take anything for granted and to make sure you keep the Indigenous tradition going,” he said.

He also took the opportunity to catch up with a few old friends.

“I saw some of the boys I grew up with and played junior footy with, Neville Jetta and Jamie Bennell from Melbourne,” he said.

“That’s the great thing about camp; we can get together and share our experiences.”

Walters admitted that, initially, he was reserved about attending the camp.

“I was second guessing myself, wondering if I should go or stay and train at the club,” he said.

“Going was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

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