• Kymeesha and Bruce Shillingsworth have had their design selected for the Sydney Kings 2021 Indigenous round jersey. (Bruce Shillingsworth)Source: Bruce Shillingsworth
Muruwari and Budjiti activist designed the Indigenous round Sydney Kings jersey with his 9-year-old granddaughter, Kymeesha.
By
Shahni Wellington

Source:
NITV News
21 May 2021 - 3:02 PM  UPDATED 21 May 2021 - 3:17 PM

The bright design to be donned by the Sydney Kings in the upcoming NBL Indigenous round is the product of generational knowledge, according to a Muruwari and Budjiti activist and artist. 

Bruce Shillingsworth has taken on a new collaboration with his 9-year-old granddaughter, Kymeesha, who is currently in year 4.

It was announced this week that the design would be used as the Sydney Kings 2021 Indigenous jersey – an artwork celebrating the coming together of the Wangal people of the Eora Nation.

It tells the story of the Parramatta River, “Parra” meaning 'eels' and “Matta” meaning 'river.' 

Having grown up in Brewarrina in Western New South Wales with her family, the design reminded Kymeesha of the Baaka (Darling River) that has major cultural significance and runs through Brewarrina and Bourke.

It's truly a family occasion for Mr Shillingsworth, who has previously worked with the Sydney Uni Flames women's NBL team where his daughter was a development player.

Speaking to NITV News, Mr Shillingsworth said sporting events and arenas offer a chance for people to engage with Aboriginal culture. 

"I think we have the opportunity to be on the platform now to get in and tell our story," he said.

"It's changing the narratives - I think all people that come to our country got to learn about First Nation people and culture and history."

The design was a collaborative approach between the duo with many discussions around how they could depict the story of the area and the home of the Sydney Kings at Sydney Olympic Park.

"My granddaughter sat down and talked about the Parramatta river in Sydney, why that's so important, why they're so important to our mob, First Nations that live along the rivers - Because that's where we survived," Mr Shillingsworth said.

"It's the traditional story that was there for thousands and thousands of years and we need to bring it to the forefront."

Indigenous club representation

A post by the Sydney Kings promoting the upcoming Indigenous round has been criticised online for not featuring an Indigenous player or club representative. 

Pictured on the poster is Sydney Kings guard, Casper Ware Junior, who is African American.

Speaking to the team about reconciliation, Mr Shillingsworth said it's important for any players or visitors to learn and celebrate First Nations culture.

"If I travel from my country, over to Gadigal country - I've got to sit with the Gadigal people, I've got to learn from the Gadigal people and learn their language, learn the way they're doing things," Mr Shillingsworth said.

"You know, if I go overseas, I need to learn their culture, and the way they speak, and when they come to my country, that's what they're gonna do here."

Sydney Kings management have defended the use of Mr Ware Junior in the graphic as "wholly appropriate," telling NITV News that it was focused on promoting people attending an event that will pay respect and celebrate Indigenous culture.

Previous Indigenous players for the Sydney Kings include Arrente man, William McDowell-White, who now fronts for the New Zealand Breakers in the National Basketball League, and Claude Williams who played 9 games for the side in 1988 and coached 35 NBL games. 

The NBL Indigenous Round tips off on Wednesday, May 26.