The first week of Super Netball’s Indigenous Round has almost come to an end, with some games facing last-minute changes due to COVID-19 restrictions.
There was no repeat of last year’s Indigenous Round debacle, where the Queensland Firebirds benched the only Indigenous player in the competition, Jemma Mi Mi, for the whole game.
This time, Mi Mi played 48 minutes against the Vixens. She said this Indigenous Round is one she’ll never forget.
“It felt surreal, I just love playing at home,” Mi Mi said.
“For it to be Indigenous Round, to have my family up in the stands and to see all the girls wear the dress so proudly and really embrace this round, and our coaches too. It felt amazing.”
Not only have all eight teams been wearing specially designed dresses to commemorate the occasion but the match balls feature custom artwork created by Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri woman Simone Thomson, titled Winyar Mugadjina – Women’s Track of Foot.
Read about the dress designs and their stories below.
The Thunderbirds’ dress was designed by South Australian artist Shane Cook, who worked with Netball South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy students and Aboriginal Netball Academy students to develop the concept for the artwork.
The 2021 dress includes both pink (Adelaide Thunderbirds) and red (Netball SA), as a tribute to the Adelaide Thunderbirds’ connection to its grassroots.
Designed by proud Yorta Yorta and Gunnai man, Dixon Patten, the dress features two soaring Magpies flying onwards and upwards, with outstretched wings, reaching new heights and possibilities.
“The background pattern of the design features gum leaves which represent cultural and personal growth. They meander like a river formation, signifying pathways and life’s journey,” Patten said.
Designed by Krystal Dallinger, the story behind the dress took inspiration from the 2021 NAIDOC Week theme ‘Heal Country’.
“The symbol at the bottom represents our Elders whose knowledge of the land, or animals and our traditional practices (which are represented by the animal tracks and symbols) is passed down through generations to educate our Countries’ future leaders and to keep our culture alive,” Dallinger said.
“The boomerang and the spears represent the wars and fighting for acknowledgement, inclusiveness and recognition.”
The Vixens’ dress was designed by Tammy Lee-Atkinson, a Yorta Yorta woman from Mooroopna.
She said the dress was themed around “returning to community netball” and highlighting Netball Victoria’s planned return to court and “the return of the Melbourne Vixens to Victoria for the 2021 Season”. This has now been delayed due to Melbourne’s current COVID-19 lockdown.
“To have Indigenous Round for sport in general is amazing and is a great opportunity to highlight Indigenous people. It’s amazing for netballers in Victoria to see and connect with the dress and highlight culture,” Lee-Atkinson said.
The artist’s family connections are also strongly depicted and represented throughout her design. The three circles represent the three rivers that connect to Echuca, where Tammy was born: the Campaspe River, the Goulburn River and Murray River. She says these rivers also represent her siblings.
Designed by Tarsha Hawley, the Swifts’ dress design features a crow, a meeting place, a waterhole, and the artist’s hand.
“Behind the crow is the Aboriginal flag, these are two important parts of my culture and heritage, knowing where I come from and embracing who I am,” Hawley said.
“Gathered around the meeting place are 10 women which symbolises each player in the NSW Swifts.
“The waterhole represents my home town, the roots of my culture and the beginning of where my life begun. Nyngan is an Aboriginal word said to mean ‘long pond of water’.”
Hawley’s hand symbolises youth within the design.
Goreng Goreng woman Rachael Sarra designed this year’s Firebirds Indigenous Round dress, entitled Uniting Flames.
“The Queensland Firebirds are more than the seven players on the court at one time. Every step or pass you make, is ignited by those who have come before you and the people who show support,” Sarra said of the dress design.
“Your roots strong in the Queensland landscapes. With every game you bring fire, and at every final buzzer, comes new growth.”
Sunshine Coast Lightning
Designed by Kabi Kabi Elder Aunty Hope O’Chin, the Lightning’s dress represents a number of Dreaming stories.
“I have provided for you through my art a representation of our Kabi Kabi Dreaming, the Saltwater Dreaming and the Dreaming of the Lands throughout the Sunshine Coast,” she said.
“I’ve chosen the longneck freshwater turtle, Maroochy (swan), the goanna, and witchetty grub, on all the lands of the Sunshine Coast.
“Representing our Saltwater Dreaming are the saltwater turtles, dolphins, and crabs. All are sustained by the protection of the environment, and all have contributed to Kabi Kabi people’s staple diet. “
West Coast Fever
Designed by Noongar artists Peter Farmer and Kylie Graham, the Fever’s design features seven circular symbols representing the seven players on court gathering or coming together, and the unpredictable path water weaves throughout the landscape.
“There are also 90-degree angles that symbolise the sections of the netball court and the sometimes sharp turns that life takes each individual on in their journey, while there are symbols of Aboriginal culture that represent the female,” the artists said.
Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne, all matches for Round 6 are to be played in Sydney and on the Sunshine Coast.
The league has also decided the Round 6 match between the Magpies and Fever will be closed to the public due to an expected low attendance and the high costs of running a home game interstate.
By Teisha Cloos