When Heat batter Mikayla Hinkley pulls on the Brisbane Heat’s first Indigenous jersey this weekend, it will mean far more than just another game of cricket.
A proud Kunja woman whose family hails from Cunnamulla, south of Charleville, the 23-year-old Hinkley collaborated with Brisbane Indigenous artist, and close friend, Delores McDonald (“Aunty Delly”) to create the jersey.
The unique design captures the stories and connection to country around Brisbane and, in particular, the Gabba.
“Rather than just being an art piece, I think it’s a real statement and conversation starter which gives Indigenous youth something to aspire to; and really illustrates where we want to take this sport in the Indigenous space,” Hinkley said.
The Heat will proudly debut the Indigenous strip in Mackay for tomorrow night’s WBBL clash against the Sixers, before showcasing the design again for a First Nations Round double-header next week (v Sydney Thunder on Friday, November 19; and Melbourne Renegades, Saturday, November 20).
Mackay’s Great Barrier Reef Arena is situated on the lands of the Yuwibara people. First Nations Rounds games will also be held in Adelaide, on the lands of the Kaurna people.
Aunty Delly explained the striking artwork on the jerseys featured the rainbow serpent (signifying the Brisbane River) and local water holes (Woolloongabba meaning “place of whirling water”), along with other significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural history.
“The storytelling element visualises where we want to take cricket within the Indigenous community in Queensland,” Hinkley said.
“With the NAIDOC theme being Heal Country this year, it’s really fitting for what we are trying to achieve as an organisation, both from the Brisbane Heat and the Queensland Cricket perspective.
“The fact we’ve been able to visualise such an amazing story and history of culture in this city gives these kids something to aspire to; and encourages them to keep connecting with culture through playing cricket.”
A BBL First Nations Round will also be held in January. Indigenous activities at the games will include a barefoot circle, Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony.
Collaborating with Aunty Delly on the jerseys was a powerful experience for Hinkley, who also works as a student support officer at the NRL Beyond The Broncos program.
“The history of our culture is pretty harsh, it’s something that needs to be reconciled. Our elders’ stories need to be heard,” she said.
“We hear about closing the gaps … but there are still massive gaps in our education and health system that need to be closed.
“That’s what drives my passion for advocating, encouraging and supporting people in that process and journey. So many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, in particular youth, don’t get opportunities or even know of those opportunities because of these gaps, whether it be in a sport or education or health context.”
Hinkley said Queensland had huge untapped potential for talent.
“I am excited and humbled to be part of this trailblazing movement in recognising our Indigenous cricketers … and in bringing those connections closer to our communities and Indigenous kids.”
Brisbane Heat Squad:
21. Jess Jonassen (c)
27. Anneke Bosch
44. Nicola Hancock
17. Grace Harris
14. Mikayla Hinkley
77. Ellie Johnston
4. Laura Kimmince
32. Nadine de Klerk
88. Charli Knott
16. Georgia Prestwidge
8. Georgia Redmayne
37. Courtney Sippel
19. Georgia Voll
24. Poonam Yadav
The Heat will play back-to-back games at Great Barrier Reed Arena in Mackay this weekend, taking on the Sydney Sixers on tomorrow evening and the Adelaide Strikers on Sunday morning.
Both matches will be broadcast live on Channel Seven and Foxtel and streamed on Kayo.