Shaun Burgoyne is a Kokatha Mula man from the north of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. A star player in the AFL, Shaun is a four-time premiership winner and played his 300th game this season. Our Director Jirra Lulla worked with Shaun on Hawthorn Football Club’s Indigenous Round Guernseys.
Shaun’s leadership within the Hawthorn Football Club is clear, both as a role model to younger players and advocate for cultural initiatives.
I was introduced to Shaun in 2013 when we commenced design work on their first Indigenous Round Guernsey. The Indigenous players had requested a commemorative design and were involved in the creative direction from the start.
Shaun saw it as integral that we honour the Traditional Owners of Hawthorn, the Wurundjeri People, and every Indigenous player who had worn a Hawthorn Guernsey.
Journalists speak often about the man known as ‘Silk’, his smooth skills, softly spoken nature and humble attitude but it was sports journalist Martin Flanagan who first highlighted Shaun’s leadership qualities off the field.
“I first met him several years ago at a meeting involving members of the football press, the AFL Players Association and a number of Indigenous footballers to discuss media stereotypes. Burgoyne, by then a Hawthorn player, was impressive. He never spoke other than quietly but he had something to say and didn’t deviate in expressing his opinion.”
Shaun is a spokes person for The Line, a campaign calling on young people to challenge attitudes and behaviors that support violence against women. “I am known as a man who respects women and calls out disrespectful behaviour.”
For the 2016 Indigenous Round Guernsey, I painted individual motifs that represent Shaun Burgoyne, Cyril Rioli, Bradley Hill and Jermaine Miller-Lewis. Through the 12-month design process I had a chance to listen to the players’ stories, to get to know where they come from, and see for myself the sheer determination it takes to become elite athlete.
Shaun is a family man, a proud father who is strongly connected to culture, country and community. He speaks passionately about returning to country to go hunting. A sleeve of tattoos on his arm depicts kangaroos and goannas and the waterholes where they gather to drink, making them easy prey for hunters.
Shaun’s motif on the 2016 Guernsey draws inspiration from this tattoo. Around the watering hole are kangaroo and goanna tracks and the spears of warriors. Shaun was also eager to see travel lines connecting each of the players’ stories, because as he says, “We have all travelled along way to get here.”
Photo: Eliza Harrison