Netball Australia celebrates the contribution of Indigenous Australians to the netball community, as part of 2013 NAIDOC (National Aboriginies and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week from 7-14 July.
Although only two previous Australian Netball Diamonds have identified as Indigenous, the next Indigenous Diamond might not be far away with five of the 22 members of the current National 19 and Under squad identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. The players were selected in this squad in April based on their performances at the National Championships in Darwin.
“To have five Indigenous girls in this squad is extremely exciting, and we’re looking forward to seeing their bright futures in netball continue to progress,” Netball Australia Athlete Identification and Development Manager Stacey West said.
Several of these players will now take part in the Australian Netball League, which takes place from July to August across the country.
This week, Netball WA will hold the NAIDOC Netball Carnival in conjunction with the WA Department of Sport and Recreation, involving more than 2,200 participants and spectators across the State.
Netball WA received a $100,000 grant from the State Government in June to implement a pilot program for Indigenous girls, as well as another grant for $25,000 to undertake a pilot Cultural Awareness and Learning Training Program for identified groups within the Netball WA community.
Both programs will allow Netball WA to expand its already dedicated Indigenous Programs that reach thousands of young indigenous people right across Western Australia, including the Indigenous Grass Roots netball program, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
Also in celebration of the contribution of Indigenous players, Netball SA and the Adelaide Thunderbirds held their inaugural Indigenous Game in Round Five of the 2013 ANZ Championship, where they wore a uniform designed by South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy student Jasmin Watson.
A pre-match curtain-raiser showcased South Australian Indigenous netball talent, with the SAASTA Stars playing a SAASTA Invitational Team from the Nunga Community Program, which was then followed by a Welcome To Country performance and acknowledgement by SAASTA students.
Netball Australia Head of Sport Development Anne-Marie Phippard attended the Indigenous Game and sees many opportunities to further promote Indigenous female participation in netball.
“In our submission to the 2012 Inquiry into the contribution of sport to Indigenous wellbeing and mentoring late last year, we discussed the many barriers that must be overcome to increase Indigenous netball participation, not least of which is the amount of funding available specifically to support sports programs for Indigenous women,” Phippard said.
“Initiatives like the NAIDOC Netball Carnival in Western Australia, Netball WA’s Indigenous Grass Roots netball program and Netball South Australia’s relationship with SAASTA are crucial to the development of Australia’s Indigenous netball players.
“We know that netball is one of the top sports of choice for Indigenous girls, so we must continue to work together to create and sustain opportunities for these girls to flourish in fair, safe and inclusive netball environments.”
Click here to read Netball Australia’s submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into the contribution of sport to Indigenous wellbeing and mentoring, conducted in late December 2012.
Click here to read the report that was tabled from this inquiry in June 2013, titled Sport – More Than Just A Game.