The rich history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be celebrated and recognised as the Hungry Jack’s National Basketball League (NBL) tipped off Indigenous Round this weekend.
The stories etched in First Nations culture are strong, deep, and meaningful, and will be told through art, with all clubs wearing special jerseys designed by local Indigenous artists.
"The important part (of Indigenous Round) is how we tell the stories of the incredible players who have been involved in this sport, and they really become the heroes for the next generation," NBL CEO, David Stevenson, said.
"To see someone like Jacqui Dover (the NBL's first female Indigenous referee) on court, as well as amazing male and female players, is inspiring for people."
The NBL launched Indigenous Round at THE LUME, Melbourne, with the WNBL. The LUME art gallery is currently showing an awe-inspiring exhibition, celebrating First Nations peoples’ art and music, known as Connection.
John Paul Janke was appointed the new Co-Chair of the NBL’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group earlier this year in a meaningful step in further strengthening the League’s commitment to reconciliation and creating positive differences for First Nations people.
The League’s Indigenous Player Rule, which provides financial incentives to clubs that identify and contract First Nations’ talent, remains a key lever to open pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players to the elite level.
"(The Indigenous Player Rule) gives a very practical ability for our First Nations people to be able to come through and get contracts and play at the highest level," Stevenson said.
"Secondarily, it sends a message ... I'm a big believer in you can't be what you can't see. If we can then show to all of the communities that we are really getting behind our First Nations people, and want to see them perform at the highest level on the biggest stage, that's an important message we want to send."
An Indigenous-themed Spalding basketball will be used, featuring an NBL Indigenous painting created by artist, Chern’ee Sutton.
Referees will also wear Indigenous uniforms, which have been designed by Christina McPherson, a proud Barada/Kabalbara Kyou (woman).
The Adelaide 36ers and Cairns Taipans will host their Indigenous games in Round 8, while all other teams will host games in Round 6.
NBL Press Release