Chad Wingard says he is proud to play for a club that is making efforts to respect Indigenous culture after Hawthorn renamed its Waverley Park headquarters to ‘Bunjil Bagora’.
The Hawks' move to rename its training and administration base sees the club become the first in the AFL to use Indigenous language to name such a facility.
‘Bunjil Bagora’ comes from the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung language and was gifted to Hawthorn by Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Senior Elder Aunty Joy Murphy.
Speaking to NITV News this week, Wingard said the renaming of ‘Bunjil Bagora’ acknowledges the club’s history and reconciliation in Australia.
“It's a massive statement not just for Indigenous kids, for all kids alike,” Wingard said.
“It might even make kids Google or have a look into Aboriginal culture and Australia's history… They’ll ask their parents, 'What does Bunjil Bagora mean?'"
Wingard hopes that other AFL clubs will jump on board and follow in Hawthorn’s steps.
“It’s a reiteration showing that we respect Indigenous culture 100 per cent, we’re going to make this place equal for everyone and walk together as one,” he said.
“It's a respect thing, but it's also acknowledging everyone who has come before us and (that) the land we stand on is Indigenous land.
“I think it’s going to be one of those things that's looked back on as a huge point in Hawthorn's very rich history.”
Hawthorn has been home to 18 Indigenous players since 1957, when Noongar man Cyril Collard became the first Indigenous Australian to wear their famous brown and gold.
Speaking on RSN Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves said the move aligns with the club’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
“It’s something we’re really proud of, it’s been a great couple of days – it’s been received really well,” Reeves said.
“Over the last few years, like a lot of football clubs and organisations, we’ve really tried to educate ourselves in this space with a lot of indigenous learnings into the clubs, we’ve got indigenous players.
“We thought that if we are going to rename this facility, we want it to respect the traditional owners of this land – we thought it was a great opportunity and we think it is a great result.”
The name will be officially honoured with a formal event in early 2022.