Kalloom player William Drestge and Yarra player Chloe Brown heat up for the Nationals.
Kalloom player William Drestge and Yarra player Chloe Brown heat up for the Nationals. Submitted

Indigenous youths' quest nationals

BUILDING a culture of success was the driving force behind former Bulls player Anthony Parry’s decision to field a team of youngsters to compete at the National Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Basketball Championships in Melbourne in November.

For the first time in Bundaberg’s history, the local under-14 boys and girls’ teams will go head-to-head with other indigenous teams across the country, which Parry says is a “real achievement for the kids”.

“It provides a pathway for indigenous players to rise to the top in basketball and by playing at the nationals, it allows us to build for the future of these individuals and also our community,” he said.

Indigenous boys and girls, between the ages of 11 and 14, are encouraged to attend the free first training session, although Parry warns securing a spot in the nationals side will not be a free ride.

“Kids have to work to earn their place in the team. We are looking for great athletes with great skills but they must know how to work as a team,” he said.

“Only those who continue to train each week and value team sport will be selected.”

Parry said it was a great learning opportunity for players, with the program promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

“They get fitness, health and nutritional advice and also a strong sense of who they are. It’s about paying respect to local Indigenous traditions and culture,” he said.

Parry said the main goal was to unite people of different cultures through basketball.

“There are a few different tribes in Bundaberg and hopefully we can bring them together at the nationals,” he said.

With a funding grant from the Indigenous Wellbeing Centre, Parry was able to buy new uniforms for the teams.

Using the local indigenous tribal language of the Gooreng Gooreng, the keen youngsters were given the all-important task of selecting their team names and colours.

“The girls picked ‘Yarra’ which means ‘to blossom’ and the boys chose ‘Kalloom’ which translates to ‘hawke’,” he said.

Parry said there was no denying the financial cost involved with sending the teams away and was already planning fundraising events and looking into government grants to subsidise the costs.

“We’re also encouraging anyone who can help in any way to get the teams to nationals to please do so,” he said.

Training starts on Wednesday, July 28, at the YMCA.

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