Darebin Falcons proudly wore a Rebecca Bell designed jumper for the VFLW’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round.  The Indigenous round is celebrated nationally and provides a platform to celebrate and recognise the contributions of First Nations peoples.  It an event to make the game more respectful and inclusive for all.

I love that the Falcons actually took that step ahead and did the jumper this year.  I love the fact that I’m part of that, and this is your design, made specifically for the team to wear. The banner across the jumper, with the edging is my own design, and that represents your club, with the Merri Creek running along beside the club”

Rebecca Bell

Rebecca Bell has been inspired by the art-making in her family, her parents and older sister, particularly as a young teenager.  Her work was featured at her club Fitzroy Stars in 2021.  Having first played football with the Koori Carnivals held at Punt Road, and then at Doug Nicholls Oval, Rebecca was Vice Captain in the first women’s team who competed in the NFNL in 2021.  Her artwork was featured on the 2021 women’s uniforms.

“I worked with my Stars sisters Jess Nannup and Shania Austin Jones to design the Away Jumpers, and the training top for our team.  Connecting with my community and connecting back with Fitzroy Stars, it feels like it is the right time for returning to the art”

Lisa ‘Kiwi’ Roper, who first coached with the Darebin Falcon’s VFLW squad in 2018, was appointed head coach at the Fitzroy Stars in 2021.  When Darebin Board member Julie Boffa talked with Kiwi about the club’s ideas for a jumper to commemorate the First Nations round in 2022, Kiwi approached Becky with the idea of working across the two clubs.

“Most of us are playing footy because of our fathers and our uncles.  For me, I play because of my dad, and I’m very lucky to be following in his footsteps at the Fitzroy Stars.  We can see now that the women are getting more profile now, and they are looking pretty good out there, getting the confidence and the boost from the community when they play in our own jumpers.  Girls can play footy, give it to them.  Designing a jumper for the VFLW team, for the club that has a space for women and girls, I love it”.  

Rebecca spent time with the club, and the VFLW players.  Led by Katelyn Hazlett, the group shared with the artist their hopes for the jumper, and their own reflections on their club.  More about the design process here.

“From the first time that they told me a yarn about their jersey and what they wanted it to be around, I had a real vision of what could be.  I wanted it to be something just for them.  So you have NT art work, lot of dot work. Down here in Victoria, there is a lot of line work, that is where a lot of lines come in.  Most of that art work is from Gunditjmara, so from the bottom of Victoria. The NT art is well known, it is out of this world, so I thought why don’t I showcase our Victorian art work too”

The design was hand drawn, featuring the Merri Creek running along the front and back.  People within our club are represented; friends, family, club people, players.  With circles linking up and following pathways to the club’s meeting places, the design shows where everyone would come together. Small footprints represent our junior players, and large footprints our senior players and past players, who remain connected to the Club.   The jumper highlights the vision of a club to be a place where people feel comfortable, connected and valued, and welcoming to the Indigenous community.

“When I walked into the change room, all the girls were putting them on and it felt really surreal.  I had a bit of tears, yeah, it was pretty emotional.  But it was happy tears!  I never thought I would see my art work on a form like this.  I do love football, so it has been amazing to see my art work showcased like this.”

Rebecca Bell