WBBL prepares for First Nations Festival of Cricket

Take a closer look at some of the Indigenous kits that will be worn this weekend to celebrate NAIDOC Week

Barefoot Circles, Indigenous kits and special balls will feature in this weekend's Rebel WBBL action, as the league recognises and celebrates NAIDOC Week.

Perth Scorchers, Sydney Thunder and Melbourne Renegades will all wear Indigenous uniforms for their matches at Sydney Showground Stadium and Drummoyne Oval.

NAIDOC week is usually held in July but was this year delayed until November 8-15 due to COVID19, providing the WBBL a unique opportunity to celebrate through the First Nations Festival of Cricket.

The Scorchers debuted their kit against the Sydney Sixers on Wednesday, with the teams coming together in a Barefoot Circle at Blacktown International Sportspark before the start of the match.

Image Id: 960E911CC3A74D809CF4C307F99C6CF5 Image Caption: The Scorchers' Indigenous kits // cricket.com.au

Designed by WA artist Kevin Bynder, the strip is the story of inspiring the confidence to dream big. The top part of the design shows the tribal area of the Whadjuk people, the traditional owners of the land surrounding the iconic WACA Ground, while there are five circles within the design, four circles to represent youth groups with the large circle being the Elders.

The sides of the shirt represent the up-and-coming cricket players, with Scorchers players represented in the middle of the artwork design.

"It's incredible," Scorchers said Beth Mooney said on Wednesday.

"Cricket Australia is leading the way in making sure we're well educated on Indigenous culture, and the WACA is not far behind that either.

"We were all really excited to pick up our uniforms yesterday, it's a wonderful initiative and I'm really proud to be supporting such a wonderful cause."

The Renegades are wearing a uniform designed by 17-year-old Ky-ya Nicholson-Ward, a member of the Wurundjeri mob.

Image Id: FD21E8659F114F00BEEDA677C101D54B Image Caption: Courtney Webb and Ella Hayward in the Renegades' kit

The circle in the centre of the shirt represents the act of gathering together, with 12 smaller circles outside representing the players while the lines at the shoulder and hips represent players standing side by side for their journeys together.

Speaking of her design earlier this year, Nicholson-Ward explained: "Our art does not use dots, our tribes use waves and carvings, the use of symmetrical lines and diamonds are very prevalent in South Central Victorian Indigenous art."

The Thunder's kit is designed by Rheanna Lotter, a proud Yuinwoman from the south coast of New South Wales.

The design shares the story of the Thunder's connection and commitment to each other and the wider community, with the middle circle representing the team with the outside circles representing their fans, staff, sponsors and local community.

The uniforms are not the only thing celebrating Indigenous culture this weekend; the Kookaburra match balls for the eight games played will feature the Walkabout Wickets logo designed by Aunty Fiona Clarke, as will the bat used at the flip.

The logo will also be painted on the ground, for the teams to stand around while performing the Barefoot Circles.

The theme of NAIDOC week in 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be, recognising that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

The weekend will also support Cricket Australia's work with the Stars Foundation, which encourages Indigenous girls and young women to attend school, complete Year 12 and move into full-time work or further study.

While NAIDOC week provides a focal point for the league’s Indigenous activities, the WBBL players have committed to ongoing recognition and education.

All eight captains and the league’s five Indigenous players came together on the eve of the season to ensure they were aligned in their approach.

A Barefoot Circle was performed before each game on the opening weekend of matches, and some teams have continued the practice through the tournament.

Other teams and individuals have committed to taking a knee before each match.

"It's important with the platform that us as sportspeople have, there's no better way to stand up against those things and to have all the captains on board and as well as most players, is pretty powerful," Sydney Sixers allrounder and proud Muruwari woman Ashleigh Gardner told The Scoop podcast this week.

"That's the most important thing, it's not a tokenistic thing that's just happening once.

"It's showing the communities that we are doing it authentically and we're not just doing it because it seems like the right thing to do."

Every team has also undergone an education session with Cricket Australia Indigenous Engagement Specialist Courtney Hagen through the season.

"(The session) was quite raw," Gardner continued.

"Listening to all those details, things I knew about the past and about what's happening currently in Indigenous culture, it was pretty eye-opening for people who weren't aware.

"It's good to keep that conversation going and that's the good thing, that is has created a conversation."