Sir Doug Nicholls Round has hit Perth with Optus Stadium bathed in colour for tonight’s West Coast Eagles clash with Essendon.
The annual round celebrates First Nations players and culture.
Prior to the match, a Welcome to Country was presented by Nyoongar elder Professor Simon Forrest
Players from both sides stood side by side as lights illuminating the ground were switched off and the roof danced in red and yellow to represent the Aboriginal flag.
The Eagles unveiled their Indigenous guernsey designed by Yamatji and Nyoongar artist Darryl Bellotti earlier this week.
Mr Bellotti explained his creation depicts the Waugul (rainbow Serpent) as it travels the land and watches over the West Coast Eagles’ journey to the Grand Final at the MCG.
When the first ball was bounced, Indigenous star Liam Ryan set the tone early by kicking the opening goal before turning to the crowd in the forward pocket and pounding his chest.
It comes as Optus Stadium appears set to hold the ‘Dreamtime’ blockbuster between Essendon and Richmond next Saturday night.
The annual match-up was first held in 2005, with 2021 the first time in its sixteen-year history that it will not be played at the MCG.
The COVID lockdown in Victoria has thrown more chaos at the league’s fixtures with Melbourne clubs scattered around the country.
Ahead of round 12, five AFL clubs will call WA home: Fremantle, West Coast, Essendon, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs.