Rhonda Lee McIsaac —
With only a peach basket and a set of rules, the game of basketball caught on like wildfire. Developed by Ontarian Dr. James Naismith in the United States in 1981, basketball has deep Canadian roots. Women’s basketball developed alongside men’s basketball. And this year at the 2017 World Indigenous Basketball Challenge there are eight women’s teams all shooting for hoop dreams.
Hailing from opposite ends of the world, these games between high standing and hardworking ladies is sure to get fans rallying in the stands and on the sidelines. Assistant Coach Belinda Hayden is the spokesperson for the team and had this to say:
What made you want to participate in this year’s WIBC?
I saw an email going around at work, and I thought what an amazing opportunity it would be to get our Indigenous women to play in such a wonderful event. So, I got in touch with Dave Wahl and asked if we can be a part of this amazing opportunity for our Indigenous women.
The women play a lot of basketball in their home states and are great role models for the younger generation who aspire to be like them. The majority of them come from the West Coast of Australia and play basketball at an elite level.
How have you prepared for this basketball tournament? Is there anything special about your preparations that would set you apart from other teams?
Most of the women play in local competition in their state league and don’t live in the same part or area, so therefore they cannot train together as a team, but their preparation for the event has been training with their club and gym training as well as conditioning and running.
Have you prepared anything for the cultural portion of the WIBC?
Not at this point, but we have a men’s team competing as well and maybe we will do something with them as a nation. It’s hard to organize this as we all live in different parts of Australia.
Do you wish to say anything to the fans who will be watching or listening to the games?
Djinanging Baal nih kadading djoorapiny nidja weern traditional owners ngalla mia mia boorda.
So, look, listen, understand and embrace all elements of the traditional owners Boodja(land). This is forever their country.
Is there a special story that you’d like to share with the fans about a member of your basketball team?
This is our first time participating in WIBC and we will encourage all Nations to embrace everyone who will be attending this competition to show respect to all and enjoy, have fun but most of all be respectful of the owners of the land that we gather on and to respect their elders past and present and most of all show sportsmanship on and off the court.
Good luck to each and every one of you, “GO HARD OR GO HOME”.
Djookyaans Australia Women’s Team won their first game against the Heiltsuk Nation Women’s Team 59-50 at the War Memorial Gym at UBC. Heiltsuk Nation Women’s Team are the host woman’s team. Djookyaans Australia Women’s Team lost 52-71 against hišuukiš cawak – Vancouver Island. The Djookyaans Australia Women’s Team won their final game against the feisty Plains Lady Warriors 77-56.