The Rioli family’s rich history with the Richmond Football Club will be etched even deeper when the Tigers run out for Dreamtime at the ‘G this month.
The famous Yellow and Black jumper worn for the match will represent the Rioli family, the Tiwi Island community, and Daniel’s Tiwi upbringing.
The guernsey which has been designed by Daniel Rioli and his parents, is the ninth Dreamtime guernsey worn by the Club in what will be the 15th edition of Dreamtime at the ‘G.
“I’m smiling at the moment because I’ve always wanted to design this jumper,” Daniel Rioli said.
“Growing up and going to boarding school as a kid, the teachers used to take us to Dreamtime, you don’t know if you’ll get drafted or where you will end up, but I always wanted to play in this game.
“I still pinch myself about being able to (play in Dreamtime) and in front of Aboriginal people, you feel so pumped up before the game knowing that all your brothers and cousins are watching.”
Rioli recalls being “absolutely stoked” after receiving “the big tick” from senior Richmond officials that allowed him and his family the opportunity to design the Tigers’ Dreamtime jumper.
“The design process with mum and dad was a bit frustrating but so exciting at the same time, we were up and down because it’s such a big thing,” he said.
“I went home for Christmas and mum and dad, who are the artists of the family, were able to start drawing it along with my ideas.”
Rioli’s mother, Belinda Punguatji, then continued to work on the project for hours each day, texting Daniel updates of the drawings.
After that, the exciting forward had the chance to sit down with representatives from PUMA, Richmond’s official on-field apparel partner, to complete the guernsey design, bringing all the key artwork aspects to life.
He described the process as “really satisfying” and “rewarding” as it allowed him to fully explain the key features of the design.
“The turtle is my totem which goes way back, it’s very special to me so I wanted it included twice on the jumper, it’s the dreaming and spirit animal of the Rioli family,” he said.
“I remember playing in the preliminary final against GWS with the turtle on my mind and I kicked four goals, like the turtles’ four flippers, it was amazing.”
The Pukumani pole that the Turtle sits on in the special guernsey represents Daniel’s people, the people of the Tiwi Islands, and the bird atop the pole is native to Tiwi, appearing proudly on the flag.
“I have no idea how dad got good at drawing, but he did all the dot paintings around the jumper, which is a big part of Aboriginal culture, the colouring’s are iconic to the Tiwi Islanders’ style of artwork,” he said.
“The spears on the reverse are similar to those my friends and I used to go hunting with and traditionally into battle, they represent men, and power.”
The Tigers will use the power demonstrated on the guernsey in a battle of their own when they face Essendon in front of a huge crowd at Dreamtime.
“To be able to do this with my mum and dad is so special to me, and I can’t wait to put on the jumper with my teammates while all my family watches back home,” Rioli said.
The jumper will also feature Treaty for Victoria messaging in support of Victorian Aboriginal communities as they progress towards Treaties being negotiated.
Dreamtime at the ‘G will take place as Victorian Aboriginal people are enrolling for a vote which will take the Treaty process forward. The vote, in July, will determine the makeup of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, which will help create the framework for Treaty negotiations.
Replica versions of the Dreamtime Guernsey are now available from the Tigerland Superstore, with all proceeds from Dreamtime merchandise supporting Indigenous youth through the Club’s Korin Gamadji Institute.