ONE of Western Australia’s most decorated WAFL and AFL players Phil Narkle visited the Kalamunda Districts Junior Football Club last week to share his football knowledge and insights with the club during NAIDOC Round in 2023.
Mr Narkle had an illustrious career in the WAFL at Swan Districts Football Club, winning the Swans Medal in 1981 and 1991, the Sandover Medal in 1982, three WAFL Premierships, 1982, 1983 and 1990, all Australian 1987, Indigenous team of the century 2005 and West Australian Football Hall of Fame 2006.
He represented WA five times and played for the West Coast Eagles and St Kilda in the AFL. He was also the first Aboriginal liaison officer in the AFL after having been appointed at the West Coast Eagles in 2009.
KDJFC club president Ash Johnson said when Mr Narkle visited the club after the juniors finished training they had a sausage sizzle and joined Phil in the club rooms, where he gave an interesting and informative presentation on Australian Rules Football.
“Phil recalled the journey from a little boy practicing to get better, bouncing a football on the back yard clothes line, growing up in a large family, being recruited to Swan Districts and his outstanding career since then,’’ he said.
Mr Johnson said that Mr Narkle had his challenges, such as his ‘near-death’ concussion, which is a very topical subject today in the AFL but back then, five concussions in one season must have been some kind of record, which caused him to wear what was affectionately known as the ‘bubble helmet’.
He went on to have one of the most successful football careers a Western Australian has been able to forge.
“We are blessed to have such a decorated individual play in the Swan Districts region, and to speak to us about his childhood, culture and inclusivity during the NAIDOC round,” Mr Johnson said.
“We are so proud of what Phil achieved at the elite level for both the WAFL and the AFL and for him to share his experiences with us and the kids is priceless.”
KDJFC registrar Jodie Szabo said the club had grown their Indigenous registrations from 10 last year, to 19 registrations this year, almost doubling their numbers.
“It is important for us to engage with the community, be it the parents and even grandparents in some cases, and develop these relationships, develop trust and demonstrate that we have a club that embraces diversity and inclusivity, we talk the talk and we walk the walk and through this practice, we have been able to grow our number of registrations in all areas, including registering more Indigenous players, which we are also very proud of,” she said.
Kalamunda MLA Mathhew Hughes’s office has provided a WA flag, Australian flag and Aboriginal flag, which will be displayed in the clubrooms, and the Aboriginal flag will be painted in the centre circle. Players are also working on artwork with an Aboriginal AFLW player which will used across the club on signage and as an Indigenous guernsey in 2024.