A young Nyoongar/Yamatji man has combined his talent for football, art and passion for his culture, winning a WA Football Commission competition to design a NAIDOC jersey for his club.
Jerome Miller, 16, who began his career at Mundijong Central Football Club more than 10 years ago as an Auskick player, entered the WAFC competition earlier this year after being nominated by the football team committee.
At a celebratory, pre-match event at Briggs Park Oval on Friday evening, Jerome unveiled his winning design against the backdrop of an enormous Aboriginal flag, which club vice president Bill Denholm had painted onto the playing field earlier in the day.
Following an acknowledgment of country and cheered on by a crowd of supporters, Jerome spoke of the meaning behind his design and was gifted with a framed jersey and a Michael Long football before taking to the field with his team.
“It was very special, I’m proud of myself,” Jerome said.
“I knew a couple of other clubs have their own indigenous jersey and I thought we should have one.
“I was at school with one of my teachers and she spoke with Stacey (at the club). We were getting together ideas and it all came to plan from there.
“My first idea was based around the hills. Serpentine Jarrahdale has those hills and bushland, that was my first idea.”
That idea blossomed into a thoughtful and creative design that pulls together the elements of the community Jerome has grown up in.
“The six circles on the outside represent Serpentine, Jarrahdale, Byford, Mundijong, Cardup and Oakford,” Jerome said, explaining the meaning behind his design.
“In the middle, on the waist, are the loyal spectators.
“On the sleeve and the collar, the lines show the continuous support from sponsors.
“The centre circle represents all the coaching staff, the middle represents the parents and the outer circle represents the committee staff.
“The dots throughout represent the players, from Auskick through to league football.”
The back of the jersey features representations of the bushland from Byford hills to the Serpentine Hills, the land between Byford and Serpentine, and the togetherness of the community through football – something Jerome relishes.
“It’s awesome to play for Mundijong, we all keep in touch every day,” Jerome said.
“We work so well, the players, the coaches, we back each other up.
“They all got around me before and after the game and said they were proud of me and that I did an awesome job.
“It’s just about embracing our culture, letting everyone know that our culture is pretty special.”
Jerome was quick to thank the club and his family, with a special mention for his Dad, Torin, and Mum, Susan.
“She does everything for us,” he said.
Mundijong Centrals Vice President Bill Denholm was eager to celebrate his player’s achievement, working tirelessly to make Friday night’s event a special one for the community.
“The purpose was to celebrate NAIDOC Week and encourage social interaction throughout the community, and to acknowledge Jerome winning the design competition.
“He is incredible,” Mr Denholm said, before thanking the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale for a grant that allowed for a complete set of team jerseys, the WAFC, and local sponsors and businesses.
“The event was well-attended and a big thanks to the Kelmscott Juniors for their cooperation.”