The AFL is pleased to announce the 2021 Toyota AFL First Semi-Final match between the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs will be broadcast in traditional Yolngu Matha language for the first time.
The history-making broadcast will be conducted by Yolngu Radio, which is one of the key community media sources for Yolngu People in North-East Arnhem Land.
The Yolngu Radio broadcast marks the second occasion an AFL match has been broadcast in traditional Yolngu Matha language, following the inaugural in-language broadcast of the 2021 Dreamtime in Perth match.
Yolngu Radio broadcasts into the six major communities and 15 homelands throughout the North-East Arnhem Land region and across Darwin and Palmerston.
Calling the match will be Nhulunbuy local William Gumbula and Elcho Island product Baykali Ganambarr.
“We are really excited to be travelling to the Gabba for the first time to call an AFL Final in Yolngu Matha language,” William Gumbula said.
“This is a great opportunity to inspire young Yolngu people and to celebrate our culture and language. I am happy to be on the national stage and make my family proud.”
Yolngu Radio manager Nicholas O’Riley said, “The North-East Arnhem Community loved hearing their favourite sport in Yolngu Matha as part of Sir Doug Nicholls Round and are excited to now hear a massive final between the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs this weekend. Thanks to the support of the AFL, Telstra, Virgin Australia, Coles, Accor and Art Series-The Johnson and Triple M, Will and Baykali have the opportunity to experience calling an AFL finals match live at the Gabba for the first time, something that the whole Top End community are extremely proud of.”
In addition, the AFL’s longstanding partner, National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS), will continue its coverage of Australian Football this year, broadcasting the remaining Toyota AFL Finals Series matches, including the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final.
Celebrating its 25th season calling AFL matches, NIRS has been a key driver in providing a platform for former AFL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players to enter the media industry and provide an opportunity for people to listen to First Nations programming.
AFL Executive General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch said the Yolngu Radio broadcast was another great opportunity to strengthen the longstanding connection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Australian Football.
“It’s an honour for the game to be invited into remote communities in the Northern Territory and have the opportunity to strengthen our commitment of being an inclusive sport,” Ms Hosch said.
“The inaugural Yolngu Matha broadcast of the Dreamtime in Perth match was well received, so I’m thrilled the AFL is once again working with Yolngu Radio to extend the excitement of the 2021 Toyota AFL Finals Series to these remote communities.
“A number of traditional Aboriginal dialects have unfortunately been lost throughout generations, so to have AFL matches broadcast in traditional Yolngu Matha language is a special occasion for Yolngu communities and a privilege for the game.
“I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the National Indigenous Radio Service for their ongoing work representing Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander voices in our game for the last 25 years.
“I’d also like to thank our partners in Virgin Australia, Coles, Accor and Art Series-The Johnson and Telstra for their support in making the Yolngu Radio broadcast possible.”
Fans can find their local frequency and tune into the NIRS broadcast via nirs.org.au, while Yolngu Radio will be available on 88.9FM throughout East Arnhem Land, Darwin and Palmerston and both are available via the Official AFL App, thanks to Telstra.
About Yolngu Radio commentators:
Baykali Ganambarr grew up in Galiwinku on Elcho Island, North-East Arnhem Land. The 27-year-old is a passionate Hawthorn supporter and plays football for St Mary’s on Elcho Island. Baykali started his entertainment career with the Djuki Mala (Djuki meaning ‘bird’ with a Yolngu accent and Mala meaning ‘mob’) performing a high-energy and stunning fusion of traditional Indigenous culture, contemporary dance and storytelling. Baykali then moved into acting and starred in the 2018 film the Nightingale.
Originally from Elcho Island in North-East Arnhem Land, 29-year-old William now resides at Ski Beach- a community located just outside of Nhulunbuy. Will knows football inside out and his love of the game saw him originally start work for AFL as a trainee in 2013 on Elcho Island. Will is a mad Brisbane Lions fan and has been known to put strapping tape under his knee like his hero Jonathan Brown, despite him never having knee issues.
About Yolngu Radio:
Yolŋgu Radio 88.9FM is one of the key community media sources for Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land. Yolngu Radio broadcasts into the six major communities and 15 homelands throughout the North-East Arnhem Land region and across Darwin and Palmerston. Programming includes traditional stories, education programs, football, music, health and wellbeing and news bulletins.
The National Indigenous Radio Service provides hourly news bulletins Mondays to Fridays to First Nations community radio stations across the country. It is also a content sharing platform of First Nations programming including current affairs and specialist shows focused on sports, youth, arts, culture, law/lore, language and the arts.