If you were paying close attention to the pre-game broadcast on Saturday night, and especially to the coin toss, you would have seen Paddy Ryder and Sam Powell-Pepper take part in a cultural gift exchange.

This was the first in a new tradition for the Saints, with an Indigenous player to join captain Jack Steele at every coin toss for the rest of the season.

Championed by newly appointed Indigenous Development Manager Aunty Katrina Amon, the move is designed to continue to embrace Indigenous culture within the club.

“We see the cultural exchange ahead of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, but we wanted to bring it in before every game as a part of our yawa,” Aunty Katrina told saints.com.au.

Yawa means journey in the traditional Boon Wurrung language and Aunty Katrina says it is one the club is excited to be on.

“As a club, we want to continue our education and understanding of Indigenous culture, as well as supporting our Indigenous players that are on our list by making sure we embrace these little things and make them feel like their culture is a part of St Kilda.

“We want the boys to be proud of their background, and the exchange is an important part of that.”

Alongside the exchange, St Kilda is looking to take further steps to ensure the club fully welcomes and celebrates the Indigenous background of its players and the land it resides on.

“As an important part of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we want to embed more Indigenous culture into RSEA Park,” Aunty Katrina said.

“We have a Welcome to Country before every home game on the big screen and we hosted a smoking ceremony before the start of the season for all players and staff in the middle of the ground here at Moorabbin.

“We have also established a ‘Yawa Room’, which houses photos of every Aboriginal player that has ran out for the Saints, as well as a mob map, so people know where they’re from.

“When Nas, Marcus and Jarrod made their debuts, we actually got them to come into the room and hang up their own images. It is pretty special to see our boys so proud of their backgrounds.  

“Indigenous culture is Australian culture. Our culture is your culture.

“Things such as smoking ceremonies, or an Acknowledgement of Country – those are initiatives that we do well now, so the next steps are to expand on that and bring in further cultural ideas into the club.”