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Marn Grook: Aboriginal football set for international showcase.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission

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MARN GROOK -- Aboriginal Football set for International Showcase


The Aboriginal forerunner of Australian Rules football, Marn Grook, is set to gain an international audience with an exhibition match scheduled at the world Indigenous games in Canada next year.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner Chairman Geoff Clark said he was delighted that the organisers of the World Festival of Traditional Games and Sports have invited an Aboriginal team to play Marn Grook.

The World Festival to be held in Montreal during August next year involves Indigenous peoples from 40 countries and features games and sports which have become embedded in the cultural traditions of those countries.

It will be the fourth time the Festival has been held under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee since it began in Germany in 1992.

Mr Clark made the announcement on the eve of a special AFL clash between Essendon and Sydney at the SCG tomorrow (Saturday) night when both teams will compete for the Marn Grook Cup.

The Cup commemorates Marn Grook, or “game ball”, which is considered to be the forerunner of modern-day AFL footy.

Marn Grook was traditionally played at special gatherings such as corroborees and often involved hundreds of players in a match which could last two or three days.

It encourages spectacular marking contests by awarding three points for winning a contested mark as well as the more familiar six points for a goal and one point for a behind.

Mr Clark said: “Our own brand of football, Marn Grook, is believed to have originated in western Victoria and it is very fitting that Adam Goodes, an Aboriginal from western Victoria is set to play a starring role in tomorrow night’s match.”

He said Indigenous players have been playing sensationally during this year’s AFL season after many of them featured in an historic ATSIC-sponsored match against Carlton before a sell-out crowd at Darwin’s Marrara Oval during February.

The ATSIC Aboriginal All Stars thrashed Carlton by more than 70 points.

“I would like to think the magical experience enjoyed by the Indigenous AFL players in the ATSIC Aboriginal All Stars has played a role in their spectacular form this year,” Mr Clark said.

“What marvellous role models these players are for our people. They not only demonstrate that

Aboriginal athletes are among the nation’s best but they also promote teamwork, endeavour and good health.”

Mr Clark said he welcomed the support and acknowledgement given by the AFL, Essendon and Sydney to the Aboriginal game with its staging of the Marn Grook Cup for the second year.

He also noted that Collingwood Football Club had co-sponsored an exhibition match of Marn Grook at the MCG last year as part of its ATSIC Chairman’s Program.

“We welcome traditional teams like Essendon, Collingwood, Carlton and Sydney getting behind the promotion of Indigenous football.

“Of course there are now more Aboriginal players than ever before right across the AFL. As many as 15 Aboriginal players are expected to participate in the upcoming Fremantle and Port Adelaide match.

“Most of them would also have played in the ATSIC All Stars team.”