Indigenous leader calls for sport to be scrapped on Australia Day

Indigenous leader says Australians shouldn’t play ANY sport on Australia Day: ‘Sport should not be taking advantage of a holiday set aside because of what happened to Aboriginal people’

  • Aboriginal leader says no sport should happen on January 26
  • Comments follow an Australian women’s cricketer raising the issue 
  • Ashleigh Gardner said she felt hesitant about playing on Australia Day 

An Aboriginal leader has called for professional sport to not be played on the Australia Day public holiday out of respect for First Nations people. 

Michael Mansell from the Aboriginal Land Council Tasmania said this week: ‘Sporting bodies have a responsibility to take the lead. They shouldn’t be playing on January 26, any sport, they should get rid of the day’.

His comments follow Australian cricketer and Mururari woman Ashleigh Gardner raising concerns about playing a Twenty20 match against Pakistan in Hobart on Australia Day. 

Australia and sport go hand in hand but some are making a controversial call for January 26 to become a sport-free day (pictured: tennis fan at the Australian Open this week)

Australia and sport go hand in hand but some are making a controversial call for January 26 to become a sport-free day (pictured: tennis fan at the Australian Open this week)

Indigenous Australian cricketer Ashleigh Gardner (pictured centre) raised concerns over playing a Twenty20 match on Australia Day

Indigenous Australian cricketer Ashleigh Gardner (pictured centre) raised concerns over playing a Twenty20 match on Australia Day

The cricketer wrote to Instagram on Sunday that she wanted to ‘raise awareness and educate people on the longest living culture in the world’. 

Ms Gardner said for some the day signals a period of ‘massacres and dispossession’ for First Nations people and while she would take the field for the game she would be ‘reflecting on her ancestors’.

She has the support of her team for raising the issue – with Australian women’s captain Meg Lanning saying fellow players acknowledge ‘the grief and sadness the day brings’ for some people. 

Michael Mansell (pictured)  from the Aboriginal Land Council went a step further and called for all sport to be sidelined on January 26 out of respect for First Nations people

Michael Mansell (pictured)  from the Aboriginal Land Council went a step further and called for all sport to be sidelined on January 26 out of respect for First Nations people

Cricket Australia stopped calling January 26 Australia Day in 2021 and this week released a statement saying it accepts the date is ‘challenging for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for some is considered a day of mourning’.

Mr Mansell said sporting officials should go further and make concrete changes such as rescheduling matches to indicate their support of First Nations people.

‘Sport should not be taking advantage of a holiday set aside because of what happened to Aboriginal people,’ he said.

Despite his call for all sports to be sidelined for the day, cricket bosses at least have made no indication they would commit to not playing on January 26.

The team will, however, wear Indigenous jerseys and take a cultural tour before the game.

Ms Gardner will take the field for the match in Hobart on Australia Day but raised the issue because she want to get people talking about the day

Ms Gardner will take the field for the match in Hobart on Australia Day but raised the issue because she want to get people talking about the day

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