How designing SDNR guernsey brought AFLW Crow closer to her family

TWO OF the Indigenous guernseys worn by AFL sides during the upcoming Sir Doug Nicholls Round have a deep connection to AFLW players.

Adelaide's guernsey was designed by April Napangardi Campbell, the aunt of AFLW Crow Danielle Ponter, but the two had never spoken before the idea to design the guernsey came to fruition.

Ponter's grandfather was forcibly removed from the family's traditional lands as a two-year-old, and the family lost connection as a result.

But when the Crows were looking for someone to design this year's AFL Indigenous Round guernsey, Ponter knew just the person.

Danielle Ponter (right) and Aunty April Napangardi Campbell are seen at a photo opportunity on April 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"Jeremy, our First Nations Programs Officer, reached out about the opportunity to create a design and I knew that my Aunty painted but I had never met her before because the family was separated for many years, so I got in contact through my mum to see if she was interested and she was, and she started painting almost straight away," Ponter said.

“And literally in seven days she was done, it was pretty amazing and it was on canvas with no digital editing.

"I can’t wait to see the players run out wearing it now. A lot of time and work has gone into it, and I really can’t wait for our fans to see it and hear the story."

(L-R): Chelsea Randall, Danielle Ponter, Aunty April Napangardi Campbell and Jordan Dawson pose in Adelaide's Sir Doug Nicholls Round guernsey on April 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Designing the guernsey brought Ponter and Campbell together, with the pair recently meeting in person for the first time.

"It’s amazing that I’ve been able to connect with her through the artwork and the opportunity. To finally meet her in Adelaide and see her artwork is just awesome," Ponter said.

"I’m so happy to have finally met my Aunty and that she is able to share some of her stories through the artwork.

"Sir Doug Nicholls Round is so much more than just a game of football, and this really proves that point.

"It’s about connecting and learning and experiencing different things. Football and this Round has brought us together."

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For Campbell, designing the guernsey has been made even more special by the fact Ponter will also wear the guernsey during the AFLW season later this year.

"I had met the family but I hadn’t met Danielle, I just knew she was my niece who played for the Crows," Campbell said.

"I was really happy to meet her for the first time, I’m really proud of her and I can’t wait to see her playing with this guernsey on the field."

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Campbell is thrilled she is able to tell a story through her design, and is hoping to inspire the next generation to pursue their passions.

"As a leader now, an elder, I show young ones how to do paintings and I hope when they see this design it inspires them to paint, to play footy and to chase their dreams," she said.

"My community can’t wait to see it. I told the local Ti Tree footy teams about this guernsey and they said they’re proud of me and want me to do a local one for the community.

"Since I was a very young child I’ve watched my grandmother telling stories in the sand and showing me different designs. This passing of knowledge is important, and it’s helped my ability to do different designs on paintings.

"I feel so proud and, for me, I see the guernsey and straight away it tells important stories.

“I’m pretty excited to see the teams playing in it. It’s really important, celebrating our culture and showing our designs which have been passed down from elders."

Campbell's design represents connection, and Ponter is hoping it will inspire the next wave of Indigenous footballers.

"The thin lines show the pathways for young people to play football and follow in our footsteps and that’s something that’s really important to me especially as an Indigenous person and a player," she said.

"I want to be leaving a good pathway to show Indigenous kids and people that they are able to be in this position and be a footballer, and maybe even a Crows player."

Ponter isn't the only AFLW player to be involved in the design of a men's Indigenous Round guernsey this year.

West Coast's guernsey was designed by proud Kija and Jaru woman Krstel Petrevski, who plays for the club's AFLW team.

Hailing from the Kimberley, Krstel collaborated with elders Simon Forrest and Vivienne Hansen in creating the guernsey.

Petrevski's design represents connection and love between the club, its players and officials.