Swifts and Bulldogs to celebrate Indigenous Recognition Day - The Queensland Times

Swifts and Bulldogs to celebrate Indigenous Recognition Day - The Queensland TimesPROUD MODELS: Swifts players Rendy Mam, Renee Hayden and John Malia don the club’s Indigenous Recognition Day jerseys, to be worn in tomorrow’s games.Claudia Baxter

ABOUT 2.5km is all that separates the Swifts and West End rugby league clubhouses.

The two famous Ipswich clubs also share a rich history of league in this city and an equally proud history of indigenous representation.

So it is entirely fitting that when the two clubs clash tomorrow at Purga, it will mark the first shared Indigenous Recognition Day between the clubs.

The idea was a brainchild of Swifts director of football operations Paul Srama, who believes the number of indigenous players in the IRL has declined over the past decade.

"I noticed the lack of indigenous players compared to years ago," Srama said. "Both at Swifts and in the competition in general.

"Swifts and West End have always had a strong indigenous history."

So Srama thought it was a perfect opportunity to promote that history and hopefully encourage more indigenous kids to get involved in league.

Swifts men's A grade vice-captain Rendy Mam hails from the Torres Strait Islands and believes there are plenty of indigenous youth in Ipswich that would benefit from playing league.

All they need is a little bit of encouragement, which is what the Bluebirds hope to achieve with Indigenous Recognition Day.

"There's a lot of indigenous players around," Mam said. "So it's a good thing to get a day like this out there."

Swifts women's team captain Kellie Hayden supports the initiative, which she thinks provides the perfect example of what sport means.

"It shows, that when you're playing on the footy field, we're all one," she said.

"We're all equal. That's why we play the game. There's no racism on the footy field."

While all footy teams speak about developing a "culture" to help them succeed, Hayden's sister and teammate Renee believes no culture can exist if racism is tolerated.

"Culture requires everybody," she said.

Medicare Local is sponsoring the day and will be conducting health checks for anyone interested.

Play starts at noon with the under-19s and finishes with Swifts women versus Wests Inala from 4.30pm.

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