A host of Victoria’s young Indigenous basketball stars will run out on centrecourt for the first time this weekend for a halftime shootout at the Boomers’ FIBA world cup qualifier against China.
Game three of the Boomers’ qualifiers against Japan and China will take place at Naarm’s (Melbourne) John Cain Arena on July 3, during NAIDOC Week.
That timing represented an opportunity for Koorie Academy to celebrate First Nations culture on the big stage during an international game.
Aside from the shootout, the Koorie Academy will form a guard of honour to welcome players to the court as a didgeridoo plays, and players will be gifted Indigenous artefacts as a token of appreciation.
Rising Indigenous star Wundarra Thomas will also sit down for an interview at quarter time with Basketball Australia.
Koorie Academy co-founder Ricky Baldwin said would be a historic moment for a game increasingly looking to honour its First Nations ties.
“As far as this is the first time it’s ever happened, having kids on the big stage,” he said.
“We’ve got special T-shirts made up for the kids, which is pretty special to be able to give each one of them.
“I can only imagine when we get photos and all the kids we raise the flag I imagine there’s going to be a big roar.”
Mr Baldwin said the opportunity was a leap forward for Indigenous pathways into professional sport which did not exist when he first got into the game four decades ago.
Sunday’s gonna be a sellout and to have our kids get these opportunities, it is just special stuff,” he said.
Australia has named two Indigenous debutants in William McDowell-White and Keanu Pinder among their 12-man squad, to be led by Matthew Dellavedova.
Indigenous Cairns basketball stalwart Kerry Williams will also be on the sideline as assistant coach.
Baldwin said he was expecting an uptempo game from a Boomers side on the rise.
Australia is currently ranked third in the world. Japan is 38th and China 29th.