When the Canberra Cavalry takes the field against the Melbourne Aces in the Australian Baseball League at Narrabundah Ballpark for four big games on 7, 8 and 9 January, they will be touching base with the heritage of Ngunnawal Country through Indigenous jerseys designed by Canberra artist Richie Allan.
The footprints, campsites and walking tracks in the Dreaming on Ngunnawal Country artwork will be worn by the Cavs to connect the players with their own shared journey while building positive conversations about Indigenous heritage.
For Richie, the artwork worn by the Cavs is one step, but he says the conversations the players and community will have also form part of the shared journey.
“Indigenous culture is art, and this is one way of integrating that culture into the community because now everyone can wear Ngunnawal art and everyone can be part of the Cavs’ journey and the Ngunnawal journey,” Richie tells Region Media.
“The whole area of the ballpark at Narrabundah is significant, with the creek that runs behind it. Ngunnawal people would have followed the creek to Tidbinbilla and back around to Namadgi. The Yuin people would have come up from the coast so it’s a really significant place and we want the Cavs to know the story of the country they play on, especially the international players.”
The Ngunnawal-based Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (TOAC) will run cultural education tours and talks for Cavs players and anyone in the community wanting to learn about Indigenous culture.
“We’re going to take the Cavs’ foreign players out for a walk on country and show them Ngunnawal culture and how they can understand one of the oldest living cultures in the world,” says Richie.
“This is for anyone, really, and we see it as a great way to close the gap. How many schools teach kids how to say hello in Japanese or thank you in German? But we don’t learn the different ways of saying it in Aboriginal languages.
“Unlike some other sports, we see this jersey as a tangible part of the ongoing conversation.
“Putting this story on the Cavs jersey is starting positive conversations about our culture, where we can sit together and understand Indigenous culture. When you understand and respect each other, that’s when you can have real change.”
Canberra Cavalry will debut the jersey against the Melbourne Aces at MIT Narrabundah Ballpark on 7 January, and will likely wear it in future home and away games.
Canberra Cavalry CEO Dan Amodio said the club partnered with TOAC for the Australian Baseball League’s first Indigenous game last season, which was really well received by the entire community.
The Cavs are the only team in the ABL to hold an Indigenous game and Mr Amodio said wearing the jersey is an important part of the discussion about educating players and staff about Indigenous culture. He also hopes to see more Indigenous baseball players coming through.
“It will be so exciting to see the Cavs wearing this very special jersey designed by local Indigenous artists,” he said.
“There aren’t any Indigenous players currently playing for the Cavalry, which is a key reason for our partnership with TOAC. We want to introduce the local community to baseball and hope to see Indigenous participation in the sport grow at all levels.”
Baseball bats and balls featuring the Indigenous artwork will also be used and will be available for fans, too.
The Cavalry also recently announced Lifeline Canberra as its naming rights sponsor for the 2020-2021 ABL season to highlight the support the organisation has given to Canberrans during an incredibly challenging year.
To find out more about games, including tickets, visit Canberra Cavalry.