UNSW Sport, Arc Sport and Nura Gili collaborated to provide this experience to students, enjoying an evening of fabulous football and indigenous culture at the Marn Grook game. This student engagement initiative is one of the many benefits UNSW students enjoy from the highly successful partnership with the Sydney Swans, as we look to bring students together through sport to positively impact their student experience.

Sir Doug Nicholls OBE, whom the round of games is named after was a proud Yorta Yorta man, and the first Aboriginal player to be selected to play for the state of Victoria in 1935. Nicholls became Governor of South Australia in 1976, the first ever Aboriginal person to serve as a Governor of an Australian state.

3rd Year Architectural student, proud Butchulla woman, Rosie Baumann stated “Marngrook at the SCG is my favourite. The vibrant energy, the deadly guernseys, the murals of the players, and the Didgeridoo tunes for every goal create an unmatched atmosphere. It fills me with pride as a young Aboriginal person. Leaving the stadium, I'm hopeful for the future of footy and the place of Indigenous cultures in the AFL community. The round emphasises our belonging on the field and in the stands, and the importance of our cultures in the broader Australian community.”

Since 2022, 1087 students have been brought together at Sydney Swans matches, with matches chosen that align to the University’s focus on Societal Impact, including Pride Game (2022 & 2023) and Marn Grook Game (2023 AFLW). Further student trips are planned for 2024, including against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday 28th July, at the SCG and a Sydney Swans AFLW match (fixtures TBA).

Nura Gili student Emily Thomson “Last Friday, we had the privilege of watching the Sydney Swans compete in the Marn Grook Round, a special event dedicated to celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture. It is one of my favourite times of the year, as I get to sit alongside my brothers, sisters, aunties, and uncles, bonding over a great game of footy. This event not only highlights the exceptional talent of Indigenous athletes in the AFL but also encourages us to reflect on our shared history and celebrate the richness of Black Excellence in sport. A massive thank you to the Sydney Swans, UNSW Sport and Arc Sport UNSW for organising this opportunity for us students.”

The traditional game of Indigenous Round that the Swans play is called Marn Grook. The meaning of Marn Grook translates to 'game ball'. The traditional game was played with a ball made from possum skin, about the size of an orange, filled with pounded charcoal and grass. The ball was bound into a hard ball with kangaroo sinews and kicked and tossed by two opposing teams of up to 50 players each. It is believed the founder of Australian rules football, Tom Wills, observed a game of Marn Grook in the 1840s and thought it would be an ideal way for Australian cricketers to keep fit during winter. This was the inspiration for Australian Rules Football