Celebrating Indigenous Round

2 months ago

Revealing the story behind our bold 2019 Indigenous dress, designed by local artist Elizabeth Close

The Adelaide Thunderbirds will join all Suncorp Super Netball clubs this weekend in celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture throughout the week and across the four scheduled matches during Indigenous Round.

The round will recognise the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages, with the match ball being used throughout the round especially designed around this.

The ball design incorporates the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags and lists the main language groups represented by members of Netball Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, along with the traditional languages of the lands on which Round 8 games will be played.

In addition to this, all Suncorp Super Netball teams will take to the court this weekend wearing unique uniforms featuring Indigenous artwork designed by an artist local to the club.

Elizabeth Close, a contemporary Aboriginal artist and muralist from the APY Lands, designed the 2019 Adelaide Thunderbirds Indigenous dress.

The Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara woman from central Australia used concepts of past and present, honouring the past while moving forward and incorporating the concept of ‘fierce together’ as a means of bringing the community together to embed Aboriginal perspectives and celebrate what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people bring to the game of netball.

“Something that really resonated with me in the artist brief was the phrase ‘fierce together’. I wanted to really dig deep and reflect that tenacity and strength of women, with the Adelaide Thunderbirds team, Aboriginal players and Aboriginal women in general," Elizabeth said.

“What I wanted to reflect in the design was that the two circles really acknowledge the past and present but are also explored from the perspective of those two circles having abstract reference to the goal circles on the netball court.”

“The dot designs and the spokes represent the team and the importance of team building, but also playing with integrity, tenacity, strength and fairness. It’s a way to recognise just how important netball particularly, but sport more broadly, is to the Aboriginal community."


Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM, Netball Australia Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group member and the first Aboriginal athlete to represent the Australian Diamonds believes Indigenous Round is a great opportunity to recognise Australia's indigenous culture.

“Netball Australia and all of our member organisations are focused on providing an inclusive environment for all Australians to participate in and enjoy netball, with a wide range of programs and initiatives run for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people right across the country,” Marcia said.

“The Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous Round is a brilliant way for us all to see and learn about the different cultural stories we all have. It’s important we’re always taking action to unite and celebrate all cultures – Indigenous Round is a great way to do this."

Athlete Chelsea Pitman, in her role as South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA) Ambassador, provides a connection between SAASTA’s Aboriginal Netball Academy and the Adelaide Thunderbirds, offering inspiration and support to girls wanting to progress through the netball pathways.

Along with providing support to the SAASTA students, Pitman’s goal as SAASTA ambassador is to educate the international players who have moved to Adelaide about Australia’s Indigenous history.

“For me, Australia’s Indigenous culture is close to my heart and something I am passionate about,” Chelsea said.

“Growing up my first ever coach at Randwick Netball Club was Marcia Ella-Duncan. Marcia was the first Indigenous person to play for Australia. She is now inducted into the Netball Australia Hall of Fame and is on the Board of Directors.”

“Marcia is someone I absolutely idolised and for me to be able to learn more about Australia’s Indigenous heritage and to help out the girls in the SAASTA program is a great opportunity and an honour.”

“Marcia is still a big part of Netball Australia and the SSN, and for me to be able to pay homage to her culture is special."

The Adelaide Thunderbirds debuted their 2019 Indigenous dress during round 7 in Darwin as a connection to the local community and match day partner Wirltu Yarlu Aboriginal Education, who are responsible for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and providing support to students during their time at the University of Adelaide.

Netball Australia is committed to increasing the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women at elite levels. Netball Australia’s pathway system currently has 10 players who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander preparing to be part of the next generation of stars, and the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants at grassroots level increased by 29% between 2017 and 2018.

More news