Adelaide has launched its 2023 Indigenous guernsey which this year features a heartfelt family link with AFLW premiership player Danielle Ponter.

The guernsey – to be worn by all three of Adelaide’s teams – has been designed by Anmatyerr educator and artist April Napangardi Campbell from the Ti Tree community in the Northern Territory.

Campbell is Ponter’s Aunty and the two met recently in Adelaide, having only ever spoken over the phone after their family lost connection when Ponter’s grandfather on her mother’s side was forcibly removed from traditional lands as a two-year-old.

The primary theme of this year’s guernsey design is connection, which has extra special meaning given the opportunity to create the special piece of artwork connected Ponter and Campbell for the first time.

It will first be seen this Saturday, May 6 as an alternate strip for the Crows’ SANFL game against North Adelaide, before the AFL team wears it for 2023 Sir Doug Nicholls Round across Rounds 10 and 11 and then the AFLW team in their upcoming season.

Ponter said it was extra special that footy had helped play a part in bringing the family back together.

“Jeremy, our First Nations Programs Officer, reached out about the opportunity to create a design and I knew that my Aunty painted but I had never met her before because the family was separated for many years, so I got in contact through my mum to see if she was interested and she was, and she started painting almost straight away,” Ponter said.

“It’s amazing that I’ve been able to connect with her through the artwork and the opportunity. To finally meet her in Adelaide and see her artwork is just awesome.

“Sir Doug Nicholls Round is so much more than just a game of football, and this really proves that point. It’s about connecting and learning and experiencing different things. Football and this Round has brought us together.

“I’m so happy to have finally met my Aunty and that she is able to share some of her stories through the artwork.

“I can’t wait to see the players run out wearing it now. A lot of time and work has gone into it, and I really can’t wait for our fans to see it and hear the story.”

Campbell’s design centres on connection as one Club, inclusive of all Crows players, staff, members, fans and communities. It aims to create a sense of belonging, strength and community, while celebrating current and past Indigenous players.

Ponter said the thin white line surrounding the red path of the crow tracks, which represents the journey of players, was what resonated most for her.

“The thin lines show the pathways for young people to play football and follow in our footsteps and that’s something that’s really important to me especially as an Indigenous person and a player,” she said.

“I want to be leaving a good pathway to show Indigenous kids and people that they are able to be in this position and be a footballer, and maybe even a Crows player.”

A replica of the AFL version of the guernsey is available to purchase now online at CROWmania, in store at West Lakes or from venue on game day. Additional merchandise featuring the design will be available to purchase ahead of Sir Doug Nicholls Round later this month.

Campbell, who is passionate about teaching language, art and culture in the remote schools in Ti Tree, said being able to share her design made her incredibly proud.

“Since I was a very young child I’ve watched my grandmother telling stories in the sand and showing me different designs. This passing of knowledge is important, and it’s helped my ability to do different designs on paintings,” Campbell said.

“As a leader now, an elder, I show young ones how to do paintings and I hope when they see this design it inspires them to paint, to play footy and to chase their dreams.

“I feel so proud and, for me, I see the guernsey and straight away it tells important stories.

“I’m pretty excited to see the teams playing in it. It’s really important, celebrating our culture and showing our designs which have been passed down from elders.

“My community can’t wait to see it. I told the local Ti Tree footy teams about this guernsey and they said they’re proud of me and want me to do a local one for the community.”

Campbell said the experience has been extra special with the opportunity to meet her niece and see her wearing the design.

“I had met the family but I hadn’t met Danielle, I just knew she was my niece who played for the Crows,” Campbell said.

“I was really happy to meet her for the first time, I’m really proud of her and I can’t wait to see her playing with this guernsey on the field.”