Indigenous businesses are sponsoring sporting teams so they can have a positive influence from within, on leagues that hold so much cultural sway on the Australian public.
One example is Indigenous-owned procurement company Supply Aus, who are now the major sponsor of the Brisbane Bullets basketball team in the NBL.
One of the first major Indigenous partners of an NBL team, Wiradjuri man and Supply Aus chief executive Adam Williams said sponsoring a sporting team gave them a chance to speak directly to the community.
“Sport plays a big part for our mob across the board,” he said.
“We are all sports freaks … if you can bounce it, kick it, throw it (then) we’ll probably play, right?”
Williams said being a financial partner in a sporting team meant the company could push “sporting clubs to do more” from within.
“Having these guys coming to us and say, ‘What should we do? What do you think?’, (means) we can change the narrative,” he said.
“We’re forward in telling them that stinks (or) asking what’s going on. One thing we can’t have is another netball incident.”
Netball Australia recently came under fire for not giving any court time to the league’s only Indigenous player, Waka Waka woman and Queensland Firebird Jemma Mi Mi, during the Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous Round.
High-profile media commentator and ex-Wallabies player Peter FitzSimons slammed the incident as an “incomprehensible error”.
“Not only would we like to see Indigenous people on the park but I want to see more when we go to those (head) offices,” Williams said.
While many companies have had to undergo major restructuring during the COVID-19 pandemic and others have been forced to close, Supply Aus has come through relatively unscathed.
“I think as a group of (Indigenous) people we’re very entrepreneurial by default,” Williams said.
“That skill set is pretty hard to find in a kind of black and white corporate world, where everybody’s so eager to do what they’re told and so boring. I think a bit of … colour never hurt nobody.
“I think that would inspire a lot of businesses … so the change with COVID where normal practices and principles went out the window — that kind of helped our business, because we were hustling every day for an order anyway.”
The Brisbane Bullets partnership will give Supply Aus, and Indigenous business more broadly, national exposure.
Delayed due to COVID-19, the NBL 2020-21 season is set to kick off in January.
By Rachel Stringfellow