The Australian Aboriginal Cricket Squad have reconnected to tour Cricket Australia’s annual training and cultural camp taking place on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The one-week camp focuses on not only developing the team’s cricket talent but fostering a strong sense of culture and creating foundations of friendship within the squad.
This is New South Wales’ squad member and Biripi man, Tyran Liddiard’s third time at the camp.
Playing cricket from the early age of seven, he said the camp fosters the iconic mateship sentiment so many associate with the sport.
“It’s been such a special trip, I’m thankful for the opportunity not only to play cricket but to meet new people, learn about other cultures and it’s an experience I won’t forget,” Mr Liddiard said.
Butchulla woman and Cricket Australia’s Indigenous Engagement Specialist, Courtney Hagen has been touring with the boys.
“We’ve been up in Gubbi Gubbi country, we’ve played against the New South Wales and Queensland state teams. We’ve been in the Glasshouse region with Lyndon Davis from the Gubbi Gubbi dance group, who is also my cousin – [he] took us out on country to different areas, taught us some irreplaceable knowledge you can’t get from a book or the internet,” Ms Hagen said.
“For some of our boys, that is the most they have ever learnt about Indigenous culture, a lot of them due to historical reasons … they haven’t been able to learn. It was a great opportunity for them and they’ve soaked it all in to come out more confident and proud in their culture and made everyone a lot closer.”
A large part of the camp is community engagement. The squad visited Wacol Youth Detention Centre and joined in on the Indigenous Schools Cup in Toowoomba.
“We had a high level of engagement from the young people in the centre and in the Indigenous Schools Cup. It was a great opportunity for the players to get involved and reach out to kids,” Ms Hagen said.
“It was great to see the kids play alongside our national players, they’re their heroes now. If you can’t see it you can’t be it – if those kids don’t see us, how do they know we exist?”
A passionate cricketer, Mr Liddiard said a lot of his motivation comes from knowing he is walking onto the field representing his people and hopefully inspiring younger Indigenous kids to do the same.
“We just want kids to have good lives, and sport can be a pathway to that. Getting kids involved, especially kids who have had a tough go, getting into sports allows them to make connections, have mates, be healthy, it puts kids on the right track,” Mr Liddiard said.
“We are doing family and mob proud, there are thousands of kids out there playing cricket and we want to get more Indigenous kids playing.”
“We are the Indigenous cricketers they are looking up to, when I was growing up I’d look up to people like Johnathon Thurston, Greg Inglis – Aboriginal sportsmen. Cricket Australia has given us that opportunity to be role models and lead a positive example for the younger generations.”
Ms Hagen shares the same views, noting the pride of the players to represent mob and develop long lasting relationships.
“I think just watching a team go from strangers, to be so close and we all have culture in common. It’s been so great to be responsible for everyone and seeing the hard work paying off. There’s a lot of really great role models we have and I can’t wait to get them out there,” Ms Hagen said.
“It’s also an opportunity for them to excel and showcase their talent to selectors which has been happening the last few games.”
The camp will come to an end as of September 21.