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Ugle-Hayward proud to be part of Reconciliation Round

Friday, June 7, 2024 - 1:05 PM

As a WAFLW player with more than 50 games under her belt, some things are bigger than football for Hope Ugle-Hayward and that's why Reconciliation Round was so important to her and why she played such a significant part in it.

As part of National Reconciliation Week, that was celebrated in the WAFLW this past weekend which included Swan Districts playing host to East Fremantle at Steel Blue Oval on Sunday afternoon.

It meant the world for Ugle-Hayward to not only play in the game and to celebrate the occasion, but also to continue to acknowledge the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.

She also got herself involved by painting a football that was presented to the East Fremantle Football Club on the day.

In the big picture, it's an occasion that Ugle-Hayward is proud to be part of but also recognising how important it is to recognise and celebrate at the same time.

"I believe Reconciliation Round is really important, it brings the community together to acknowledge the contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Players make to the game and gives us an opportunity to represent our mob and culture," Ugle-Hayward said.

"The theme this year is Now More Than Ever, it’s really important that we as a football community consider the legacies of past Indigenous and non-Indigenous people coming together and playing on the field with courage."

Ugle-Hayward was excited for the opportunity to create the gift for East Fremantle as part of Reconciliation Round.

She put a lot of thought into the design and then a lot of care and effort into creating the painting which she was rightfully proud to hand over to the Sharks on Sunday afternoon at Steel Blue Oval.

"I have painted a football for the gift. I wanted to tell a story of the two football clubs this round," she said.

"The painting shows the waterways (bilya/river) of the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) and meeting of the two animals the shark (kwila) and the swan (maali)."

Not only was it a special occasion on Sunday for Reconciliation Round, but the celebration of 100+ senior games of Ugle-Hayward's long-time teammate and good friend Emily McGuire was also celebrated.

Having looked up to her for so long and developed such a close friendship, it meant everything for Ugle-Hayward to get to celebrate the occasion with McGuire.

"Emily McGuire has been a role model for me, ever since she was my coach alongside Courtney Ugle at the National Female Indigenous Development Football Academy in 2017," Ugle-Hayward said.

"Having Em back into the team has been great. We have a relatively young side and she’s been able to use her skills and knowledge to make our team stronger."

Speaking of milestones, Ugle-Hayward reached her 50th WAFLW game earlier this season too with the 23-year-old continuing to be a key member of the Swan Districts team.

Having been part of the WAFLW competition since 2019, she is not only delighted with what she's been able to do as a player, but to also see how far female football continues to flourish.

"It meant a lot to me, I started playing in the Western Australia Women’s Football League in 2015 and have seen massive improvement in the skills and development over the years," she said.

"Being a part of WAFLW since its inception, it’s been amazing to see the journey the league has gone through and now be a part of the most competitive season I’ve been in."

All of a sudden there is now only two rounds of the WAFLW season remaining with Swan Districts currently sitting in fourth position and still a game clear of both Subiaco and South Fremantle.

Swans finish the season on the road to both West Perth and Peel Thunder with Ugle-Hayward looking forward to a strong end to the campaign both for herself and the team, and to play finals.

"Having worked hard in the off season, I’ve been encouraged by seeing my growth as a player in the team," Ugle-Hayward said.

"I’ve played in versatile roles across midfield, forward and backline, I’m excited to be nominating for the draft at the end of the season.

"Being in a leadership role this year, I’ve seen our losses and our wins and I’ve been encouraged by the resilience and the courage that this group has shown. I believe our girls can create something special on the field and I’m excited for the end game."