The AFL will name the indigenous round after Sir Doug Nicholls, its only player to have been knighted and serve as a state governor.
The centrepiece of round 10 on May 27-29 next year will be the annual Dreamtime At The ‘G match on Saturday night between Essendon and Richmond.
The AFL announced the honour for one of Australia’s most famous indigenous figures a day before the release of next season’s fixture.
Sir Doug played 54 games for Fitzroy in the 1930s and was the first indigenous player to represent Victoria.
Also a talented boxer and sprinter, he later became a Churches of Christ pastor and was knighted in 1972.
Sir Doug was the first indigenous person to be knighted and have the role of state governor.
He was governor of SA for five months in 1976-77, resigning because of ill health, and he died in 1988.
Sir Doug is the great-grandfather of former Essendon player Nathan Lovett-Murray.
“Sir Doug Nicholls is the great untold story of Australian football and he represented both the values of our game and epitomised the spirit of reconciliation,” said AFL chief executive Gil McLachlan.
“He was a pioneering campaigner for reconciliation, but his love for and commitment to Australian football was the glue that brought together all the other facets of his life.”
The AFL Commission decided to name the round after Sir Doug following a discussion at the league’s indigenous advisory council.
Race relations became a hot topic in Australian sport earlier this year when some fans booed Sydney’s two-time Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes.
He felt the abuse was racist and Goodes sat out a match.
Goodes retired at the end of the season.