By Lincoln Edmunds
This weekend the AFL and SFNL community celebrate Sir Doug Nicholls Round, the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and their contribution to Australian football.
The themed round gives the football community the opportunity to formally recognise and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, communities and cultures.
One of those players is Lyndale’s Josh Kyle, a midfield bull who moved down from Cairns to Melbourne as part of an Indigenous program in collaboration with the club.
Having spent the majority of his years up north, it’s no surprise to learn that Kyle spent most of his time playing Rugby League before switching codes in his late teens.
The switch has led Kyle to many new opportunities and his program with the Lyndale Football Club is just one of the benefits of being involved in the sport.
Kyle’s partnership with Lyndale sees the club provide him with a sponsorship that covers club fees in return for some shared promotion that shares messages about the club and the program.
In addition to the promotion Lyndale have received a very talented player too, with the big bodied midfielder making his mark in the team as one of the better players.
However, this weekend of footy will be extra special for Kyle, as he gets to represent his club, culture and people whilst playing the sport he loves.
“For all the non-indigenous people to recognise and pay their respects to us is great. Just being able to show other footy clubs and people all about our culture and what we are about is good recognition,” Kyle said.
And the extra attention doesn’t seem to faze Kyle, who looks forward to the occasion each year.
“I’ve found that every Indigenous Round that I’ve been involved in, I’ve played really well. It’s something that I really enjoy being a part of every season”.
Lyndale has also been very supportive as a club, with Kyle having no trouble fitting in with the rest of the team.
“I enjoy turning up to training seeing new faces and making new friends,” he said.
“The boys get around everyone even when we don’t have footy functions. Even in public if they see me they’ll stop and have a chat”.
Just like it has for Kyle, footy clubs provide many people with a great environment to interact and engage with their local community.
“I definitely feel like I’m a part of the community. Footy is a good vehicle for community bonding,” Kyle said.
“It has been my safe haven. I’ve used it to stay out of trouble and as a kid I’ve been in a bit of trouble. I’m not sure where I’d be without footy.”
When talking about who his Indigenous role model is, Kyle said it was hard to go past Cyril Rioli.
“I really like the way he plays. He’s a really good player and what he stands for within the league is really inspiring for you indigenous people.”
And perhaps with some influence from Cyril, Kyle admitted that he would prefer to kick a miracle goal rather than take a big hanger.
“I’d definitely rather take the miraculous goal no doubt. I mean there’s no doubt that everyone will remember something like that.”
Whilst the seniors have had a mixed start to the season, Kyle still believes that the club can feature in finals come the end of the season.
“We definitely still have finals aspirations. The boys are still up and about, hitting the training track hard and leaving it all out there.”
But for Kyle this weekend will be extra special regardless of the result, as he gets to run out and proudly represent his club, culture and people in a round that means so much to him and his people.