To celebrate the role Indigenous Australian players have made to the sport, Hockey Australia will hold a special Indigenous weekend during its FIH Pro League double headers in Perth on 6/7 March 2020 against Argentina.
Tickets for both match days against Argentina are available through Ticketek.
In a first for Australian hockey, the dedicated Indigenous themed weekend will encompass a host of cultural elements and events highlighted by the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras (Australia’s women’s and men’s national hockey teams) wearing a specially designed Indigenous playing kit.
The artwork on the front of both playing kits was designed and painted by proud Aboriginal, dual Olympian, gold medallist and former Hockeyroo and Federal Senator Nova Peris OAM, and also includes artwork by Indigenous artist Nathan Patterson, who heralds from the Northern Territory.
“This is an opportunity for hockey in Australia to celebrate Indigenous players who have played for Australia over time,” said Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier.
“It is our chance to say thank you and to acknowledge them, and more broadly to recognise and celebrate the role that Indigenous people play in Australian culture and our community, particularly through sport.
“Surprisingly we haven’t done something like this as a sport before despite our history which has seen talented Indigenous players such as Nova Peris, Des Abbott, Joel Carroll, Baeden Choppy and Lorelle Morrissey.
“We have some players of Indigenous heritage also playing now, so the timing is appropriate and we are thrilled that we are able to do it.”
Favier said having Peris paint the imagery on the playing shirts added further impact.
“Firstly, it is extraordinary to have somebody like Nova, who is Australia’s first Indigenous gold medallist and dual Olympian, excited about supporting this initiative,” said Favier.
“We are thrilled that we have been able to engage a person of her calibre to put her designs on the uniforms that will be worn…it is terrific for our sport.”
Peris said she was honoured when approached about painting the designs, which feature x-ray style paintings, a method her descendants, who are of the Iwatja peoples of Western Arnhemland, have painted for thousands of years.
“To be asked to design the Hockeyroos, Kookaburras and staff uniforms was a humbling gesture,” said Peris.
“There have been many great Indigenous athletes that have represented Australia over the past few decades and to now have the opportunity to have our culture expressed and showcased to the world is absolutely wonderful and timely with the many other sports who have joined in the spirit of reconciliation.
“I enjoyed painting again and both the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras uniforms allowed me to express how I felt during my time as a Hockeyroo.”
Current Hockeyroo Brooke Peris, who is a younger cousin of Nova, said it meant a great deal to her to be involved and to compete as an Indigenous Australian.
“This is really special and I’m extremely proud to be able to represent Indigenous people and have the opportunity to be part of this occasion,” said Brooke.
“I cherish every time I get to play for Australia, and if I can help to inspire other Indigenous people, whether it is to pick up a hockey stick or following any other pursuit in life while being proud of their heritage, it makes it all the more worthwhile.”
Furthermore, the polo shirts that will be worn by the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos coaches and staff on the two match days will feature a Peris design of ‘the Seven Sisters and Emu in the Sky’, which stretches across the Milky Way.
‘The Seven Sisters and Emu in the Sky’ have significance and connection for Indigenous people, while also aligning with Australia’s men’s and women’s hockey teams as it is about bringing people together from different areas.
One of the major events of the weekend includes a group of young indigenous players from the Cairns Aspire to be Deadly Program taking part in a five-a-side game at half time of both Pro League matches.
“There will be very much an Indigenous theme across the two match days. We will have some cultural activities incorporated within the matches on the 7th of March which will add to the celebration,” said Favier.
“But probably the piece that will be most exciting is the kids from the Cairns Aspire to Be Deadly Indigenous Hocky Program getting to play on the pitch and be part of the day.
“This will be about celebrating current and future talent by giving these young Indigenous kids an opportunity to experience something they would never have done before.”
The major ceremonial events will take place on Saturday 7 March and will incorporate a host of elements including a traditional Welcome to Country and Indigenous dancers.