by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Shortly after Hawthorn defeated Collingwood in the Qualifying Final, midfielder Chance Bateman announced that 2012 would be his last season. Bateman, 31, joined the Hawks in 1999 to become just the second Indigenous player after Willie Rioli* in the club's history. Willie, drafted in 1990, never made it to a senior debut. Bateman did debut in 2000 to become the first Indigenous player to play with the Hawks.
In making the announcement of his pending retirement, Bateman acknowledged and thanked the club staff and teammates who "... made it easy and enjoyable to play footy." He said his teammates were like family and "... a great group of guys" and he thanked them all for their friendship and support throughout his career.
Coach Alastair Clarkson described Bateman as a pioneer and trailblazer for indigenous players at Hawthorn and said he would always "have a special spot" at the club. Clarkson had high praise for Bateman,, saying "Not only has he forged a path for so many ... but ... also shown so many others the way...". He added that Bateman "had a huge influence on ‘Junior’ in Cyril’s first 12 months ... and ... also played a significant role in Buddy’s development, and the development of so many others.” Clarkson also acknowledged Bateman's hard work, professionalism and commitment and how those attributes set a great example for the younger players. He thanked him for the contributions he made to the club over his 13 year career, not only as a player but a person and leader as well.
Hawthorn Life Member (awarded in 2010 - the first Indigenous Hawk to receive the honor)
International Rules Series 2006
*Willie Rioli is the brother of Richmond legend Maurice and uncle to Cyril. They are also related to former Bomber Dean Rioli. Willie, Jr currently plays in the NTFL and will be eligible for the 2013 AFL Draft.
Source: Leah Mirabella, Club Media Release, adelaidenow.com.au
Small forward Nathan Djerrkura announced his retirement from football after 10 years away from his Northern Territory home. His football journey began at Scotch College. He was drafted by Geelong in 2007 but managed just four games before being traded to the Western Bulldogs at the end of 2010. Djerrkura said the decision was difficult but that he felt comfortable with it and was "... ready to move the next phase of his life". He said he had some terrific experiences as a player but wanted to return home to his family, community and cultural responsibilities. Djerrkura thanked the club, saying they had been terrific and he believes the club is in good hands with Coach Brendan McCartney. He was especially grateful to the club counselor Brett Goodes*.
Football Manager James Fantasia described the small forward as a "consummate professional" who was popular with his teammates and whose commitment was unquestioned. “He was a pleasure to have around ... and was respected by all ... for his attitude to life and football". Although Djerrkura, 23, had another year on his contract, Fantasia said the club respected his reasons for wanting to return home.
Djerrkura played a total of 21 games and kicked 8 goals in his brief AFL career. He will return to Gove (the northeastern tip of the Northern Territory on the coast of where the Carpentaria Gulf meets the Arafura Sea). He already runs youth workshops in the area. His father Gatjil, who passed away in 2004, was a former chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and a prominent Aboriginal activist.
*Brett Goodes is the younger brother of Sydney's Adam Goodes. He played with North Ballarat and Williamstown in the VFL.
Source: Denis Bicer, Club Media Release, theage.com.au
Article last changed on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 8:00 PM EDT