Keilor Basketball Association’s Big V teams will play in their annual Indigenous Round this July after the round was rescheduled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Keilor’s Indigenous Round is the brain child of of their largest junior domestic clubs, Aberfeldie Jets, who ignited the round in 2019. The recent Victorian COVID-19 lockdown saw the round postponed until Round 17 of Big V, Sunday July 18.
Traditionally aligned with NAIDOC week, the Indigenous Round has become a recognition of Indigenous history, culture and those within the Keilor community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for our lands, our waters, our sacred sites and our cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction.
For General Manager of Keilor Basketball Association, Paul Rovis, the round is more than a game between two teams and holds significant power in the community.
“The excavation and subsequent radiocarbon dating of the ‘Keilor Cranium’ suggests Indigenous occupation in the area as long as 40,000 years ago” said Rovis. “NAIDOC week provides an opportunity to demonstrate the strong connection we currently have to the indigenous community.
“While it is disappointing the round has been rescheduled, just like our Big V teams, we look to turn negatives into positives and use this as an opportunity to make the occasion even more memorable.”
One of the methods employed by Keilor to pay respect to the owners of the land is a dedicated Indigenous Round jersey worn by their senior teams and designed by an Indigenous junior.
Aberfeldie Jets Under-12 player and proud Juru, Kaanju, Wokka Wokka and Torres Strait Islander girl Jada Ross have designed the Indigenous Round jersey with elements taken from the associations inaugural Indigenous logo that originated in 2019.
The basketball logo symbolises Keilor as an overarching association, surrounded by the 13 junior domestic clubs and their people that play basketball within the Association.
“The ‘learning lines’ are symbolic of the education, understanding and reconciliation journeys that the Clubs and community are on,” said Rovis. “The rivers and lakes surround the Clubs and Association, joining the lands that the Clubs meet and play on that connect everyone within our local basketball community.”
The logo has also been incorporated into a Keilor colour themed uniform that local Indigenous children will be wearing in their showcase game.
Administrator Susan Banon said the round became an integral part of the Keilor calendar immediately after its inception.
“The Keilor Basketball Association has a strong connection with our Indigenous community with numerous players of Indigenous heritage.
“We will build upon the celebration this year with our own ‘Little Long Walk’, traditional smoking ceremony, Welcome to Country and our Big V teams wearing uniforms designed by a Junior Domestic Indigenous player, the Keilor Community will look to pay their respect to the First Nation people.”
Keilor are among three Big V associations who have held or are planning to hold Indigenous Rounds in 2021. Craigieburn Eagles celebrated their inaugural event in Round 7 while Southern Peninsula Sharks are rescheduling their round.
Banon is one of many in the Big V basketball community who wait in anticipation for the day there is a league-wide Indigenous Round annually.
“Our First Nation’s people have contributed greatly to the development of sport over the years in this country,” said Banon.
“People like Polly Farmer, Cathy Freeman, Lionel Rose and Patty Mills are pioneers for their people and by acknowledging the amazing contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, it will hopefully contribute towards reconciliation.
“I feel it is the moral obligation of the Big V to set an example in the sporting community, and the sooner this becomes a reality, the better.”
NAIDOC Week 2021 is held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July. NAIDOC 2021 invites the nation to embrace First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country as part of Australia’s national heritage and equally respect the culture and values of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders as they do the cultures and values of all Australians.
Each year NAIDOC week grows in stature and depth of celebrations at community, state and national level. For further information on the NAIDOC 2021 theme please visit: NAIDOC 2021.