When the Mid Mountains Netball Club decided to redesign their players uniform, the strong feeling was it should reflect First Nations people.
The club worked with the Blue Mountains Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Dharug artist, Leanne Tobin, to design a new netball dress for 2022 that would honour the land and pay tribute to the Elders past, present and emerging.
President Gail Gilmore said the last time Mid Mountains Netball Club (MMNC) changed their uniform was in 2011. She said it was about respect and inclusivity, a dress "all players could wear with pride".
"Our players absolutely love the dress - we have had some players join in 2022 just to play in our dress and have had an increase in registration of 17 per cent," Gilmore said.
Gilmore said the brief was to incorporate symbols or meaning within the design significant to the Mid Mountains. Ten per cent of their players identify as Indigenous.
"We asked Leanne to reflect on our value as a club within our community - we are a place for people to come together and experience the many benefits of playing netball.
"Including recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples contributes to ending the exclusion that has been so damaging to the culture. For our club, it makes a statement about who we are - we are a community club inclusive of all backgrounds and we are proud and connected to the Mid Mountains."
The idea started following an approach about a possible Indigenous round, inspired by the Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous rounds.
"This brought about some discussion within our committee," Gilmore said.
"We had been wanting to update our uniform and thought incorporating an Indigenous design connected to the area we train and play on would be a wonderful way to make a statement about inclusivity and pay tribute to the culture of the First Nations people."
She said Dharug artist Leanne Tobin was "wonderful to work with ... the advisory committee approved the final design".
Artist Leanne Tobin said in traditional times, much of Dharug life was conducted around the waterways and that inspired the design.
"The light blue band running diagonally across the design represents the water in our area the rivers, creeks and waterfalls. The weaving motif inside the light-blue band symbolises the traditional Dharug women's weaving and coming together as a team.
"The three large circles acknowledge the Blue Mountains story of the Three Sisters, part of the bigger story of the Seven Sisters that goes right across Australia and beyond. These circles also represent different communities coming together."
Tobin said she found it "very encouraging to see the warm embrace of our local Aboriginal Dharug culture in this way"
"It strengthens our people to see the open acknowledgement and acceptance and it's a true delight to see the uniforms displayed so proudly," she added.
Jacqui Porter, a MMNC committee member, said she is hoping from this little thing, big things will grow.
"In regards to an Indigenous round, this is something the Blue Mountains Netball Association would have to implement, rather than the club, but I think that would be wonderful. I loved how the Melbourne Demons temporarily changed their name to Narrm, the Aboriginal name for the city of Melbourne, for the AFL Indigenous round. There are many things that could be done to celebrate First Nations culture that don't involve changing uniforms."
"I hope it does effect change, these small steps," Porter added.
Mum, Rachel Betts said: "I think it shows that they are not separate any more."
The Mid Mountains Netball Club is 42 years old, and has 105 registered players. It's feeder area is Hazelbrook to Katoomba. Pre-COVID sponsors - EK Recruitment, MCS Rental Software, Metro Plant Electrical and Shape Financial Advisory - helped subsidise the uniform cost, with the help of fundraising efforts from members.
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