Basketball NSW (BNSW) and Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits the organisations to developing opportunities and participation in Indigenous basketball across the state.

Signed in early March, the three-year agreement will see IBA become a critical partner to BNSW, delivering workshops alongside BNSW at school holiday camps and 3×3 tournaments in NSW.

Not only will the programs assist young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes with pathways to professional sport development, it will facilitate pathways for coaches, referees and technical officers.

“BNSW are proud to work in lockstep with IBA to provide better opportunities that will make a real impact to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths. We believe basketball as a sport is the perfect platform to inspire and enrich the lives of all participants,” said BNSW CEO Maria Nordstrom.

“With this landmark partnership, we can support Patty [Mills’] mission of creating pathway opportunities and potential funding grants that will benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth of Australia.”

“I look forward to working hand in hand with Indigenous Basketball Australia on a number of unique and innovative programs.”

IBA founder and NBA champion Patty Mills shared his excitement about the MOU.

“Our partnership with Basketball NSW is immensely exciting; I look forward to our organisations working towards our shared goal of increasing participation in the sport and providing opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youths that will make a genuine, positive change to their lives,” he said.

To enhance this vision, BNSW has employed proud Yugambeh woman Jacqui Dover as their Indigenous, Cultural and Linguistically Diverse Programs Manager.

Dover is a Women’s National Basketball League referee and founder of referee mentoring business JD8 Official.

Growing up on the basketball court, it’s no surprise Dover has a great love for the game.

“I’m one of five kids in a competitive family, guess that’s why we enjoy the sport so much!” Dover said.

“Growing up it was pretty much basketball for us as kids with our parents heavily involved in Queensland.”

Dover has been a referee for six years, having a career as a player previously. She has worked within state basketball in Queensland and has spent time working in participation development with the NRL Cowboys.

“I’m excited to be back in a role that allows me to work growth in sport, specifically in basketball. Having that as my background is a bit more exciting as well,” she said.

Within her role, Dover has already been working with the IBA team on referee selection and has been running coaching sessions on the Gold Coast with referees and officials.

Dover said refereeing showed her a side to the game she hadn’t seen as a player, one that now fuels her role and her business.

“Refereeing gave me a newfound love for the game. At the back end of playing, I was quite good at bench warming, probably didn’t quite hit the peak that I was hoping to as a player but being a referee, you get the best seat in the house,” she said.

“We have to deal with a bit of conflict, but that makes us more resilient, and we focus more on being able to communicate and being a person players can relate to.”

Dover was also recently part of the Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) semi-finals on March 21 in Queensland.

“The atmosphere and the pure joy and excitement you see in the kids, and that vibe that goes on a Sunday at the competition for two hours, you don’t necessarily get that at any other basketball competition — that’s exciting,” she said.

Not only a gun on the court, Dover also designed the IBA referee shirts which were produced and supplied by ARCHER Officials.

“I do enjoy making art, I think that comes from Mum and my sisters as well — they’re all very creative and artsy,” she said.

“It presented an opportunity that allowed me to portray a story about being involved on the referee side that we, from an IBA perspective, see growing and provide opportunities for officials as well not just players and coaches.

“It was really enjoyable doing the artwork and I never thought it would be on a top so it’s extra special.”

By Rachael Knowles