• Nate Jawai plays for the Cairns Taipans. (National Basketball League )Source: National Basketball League
For the very first time the NBL has introduced an Indigenous Round, with goals to share the culture of First Nations people.
Brooke Fryer

30 Jan 2020 - 3:46 PM  UPDATED 30 Jan 2020 - 3:53 PM

Australia's National Basketball League kicked off its inaugural Indigenous Round Wednesday night as a way to acknowledge Indigenous culture across Australia and New Zealand.

All nine National Basketball League (NBL) teams who are playing in Round 18 will wear jerseys designed by Indigenous artists.

Akala Sandy, a 16-year-old Yerongpan woman from the Brisbane region, was the brainchild behind the design of the Brisbane Bullets jersey. She said her design is the echidna dreaming.

"The design was about getting the stories out there from my ancestors," Ms Sandy told NITV News.

"The echidna is the dreaming of the area, Mount Gravatt, which is the area of the Brisbane Bullets."

As an aspiring artist, Ms Sandy said she hopes to be an inspiration for younger generations to share their artwork.

"It makes me feel happy that I'm actually getting out there as a young Aboriginal woman," she said.

"I want to become a leader for the younger generations to follow in my footsteps."

All games during the Indigenous Round will include a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country.

The first game Wednesday night was a clash against the Melbourne United Basketball Club and the Perth Wildcats, seeing Melbourne United win 77-67.

"There are a number of Indigenous players, officials and administrators who've made an important contribution to basketball both in Australia and New Zealand," NBL Commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger, said.

"It's important we recognise these key Indigenous figures in a meaningful and impactful way, while also acknowledging the contribution wider Indigenous communities have made to the game."

NBA's San Antonio Spurs' star Patty Mills called on the NBL to make the "long overdue move" and introduce an Indigenous Round.

"The NBL has done some great things in recent times. Would be great to see them follow the [Illawarra Hawks] and support an Indigenous Round so the whole league across two countries can be involved in celebrating this significant event," Mr Mills said on Twitter in December 2018.

"It's also time [Basketball Australia] does the same to acknowledge the Indigenous people, communities and history of Australia through our sport.

Mr Mills was inspired to speak out after the Illawarra Hawks wore their Indigenous jersey, designed by a local Aboriginal student Harry Pitt, for the very first time that month against a clash with the Sydney Kings.

It was this support that prompted the NBL to introduce an Indigenous round.

"The decision to stage an Indigenous Round follows the success of last year's Indigenous game hosted by the Illawarra Hawks, [this] prompted us to look at round wide initiative this season," said Mr Loeliger.

The Illawarra Hawks will play this Sunday night against the New Zealand Breakers in Wollongong.