The First Nations sides will be running out with their heart on their sleeve at Redfern Oval next weekend, wearing the jerseys designed by two indigenous artists.
The men’s and women’s Australian indigenous teams and their New Zealand Maori rivals will arrive in Sydney early next week to prepare for their Festival of Indigenous Rugby League clashes on February 10.
Krystal Hurst, a proud Worimi woman who designed the Goannas jersey for the men’s indigenous team, told NRL.com the design was a symbol of the coming together of mob.
“The name of the team is the First Nations Goannas and that’s where I took inspiration and also what it means when all different mob come together,” she said.
“It’s just a really good time when people get together and you get to see family and watch good games of footy so I tried to represent that in the artwork.
“With the Goanna tracks, I did that because they travel across the land. It’s like we’re making the Goanna tracks as well and having the different meeting places that represents all of us mob coming together.
“Also on the bottom right-hand side it’s got the different colours, so that’s all the different first nations coming together and showing where we come from, and that we are all diverse but we are coming together for a particular thing, which is the festival.”
Danielle Mate Sullivan, a proud Murrawarri and Euahlayi woman, designed the women’s indigenous jersey for the Gems with celebrating reconciliation at the forefront of her thinking.
“My inspiration for this particular piece I suppose was those main words I mentioned, celebration, the Gems, the players and everything else that goes into making it the game that it is, the spectators, the supporters and the community,” she said.
“It’s always a good way of bringing our mob together, let alone the wider community as well. I suppose that’s where sharing and reconciliation comes into it as we have a combined love for indigenous culture, sport and the game.”
Trent Rose, who will run out for the Goannas, will be bursting with pride when he puts on the indigenous jersey.
“The jersey designs are deadly. The coming together of our mob for this event has been perfectly illustrated by both artists and I can’t wait to run out in the jersey on game day proud to be a black fulla,” he said.
“It’s an honour representing my people and my culture and to go up against another strong culture in the New Zealand Maori.
“Having this festival gives our people something else to look forward to each year. It’s displaying the showcase of talent, and playing against the NZ Maori, who share the same pride and passion.
“I’m looking forward to the week and what it will bring for all of us. Meeting and hanging out with new brothers, bringing us all together as one.”
Taleena Simon, a member of the Gems team, said the inaugural festival would unite a lot of people from many backgrounds.
“I am extremely proud and honoured to be wearing the Gems jersey to represent my family, my culture and my people,” she said.
“The festival is a way to not only showcase our talent but bring us all closer together. It’s a day of people coming together from different places and backgrounds.
“I have faith in all the girls, they wouldn’t have been selected if they were capable of having a positive contribution to the side. As long as the girls give it their best and have the belief in each other that we can win this.”
Tickets to the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League matches are on sale via the NRL Tickets website.