Kamilaroi decedent Hannah Darlington says players have embraced NAIDOC Week and the opportunity learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
For the first time ever, NAIDOC Week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) has coincided with cricket season after the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was deferred to November due to COVID-19.
On Monday, WBBL teams came together in the hub for a traditional smoking ceremony. Teams have participated in various Welcomes and Acknowledgements of Country and will also wear Indigenous designed kits in the back half of the week.
“I think this is the most I've ever seen a group of players from all teams want to be educated and want to be involved in these kinds of conversations, where they can learn and then take part in a lot of these things,” Darlington said.
“It's been a really special week. The lead-up has been really good in terms of education and the conversations I've been having with some of my teammates, especially the internationals who actually want to know more. “
In 2018, the then 16-year-old was named as captain of Sydney Thunder’s first Indigenous team. She also travelled to England the same year as part of the Aboriginal XI team, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 1868 Aboriginal tour of England.
Darlington is one five Indigenous players in the WBBL this season and partook in a Barefoot Circle alongside her Indigenous peers and team captains to welcome in the competition.
The Barefoot Circle pays respect to the traditional owners of the land allows players and opponents alike to connect to the country they are playing on. Despite only being 18-years-old, Darlington is aware of the responsibility she has as a role model in the Indigenous community.
“I think it's a pretty cool responsibility to have and I would like to see myself as one of those role models, especially at such a young age, to show that it is possible. I had Ash Gardner and Dan Christian to look up to in the Aussie set-up playing around the world and I think if people can turn on the TV and see myself, Ash or whoever it might be, I think we're doing our job.”
In the Shield, players also partook in a Barefoot Circle on Sunday, bringing in NAIDOC Week with traditional Acknowledgments and Welcome to Counties.
With players embracing NAIDOC Week across the WBBL and Sheffield Shield, Darlington believes the foundations are now set for an Indigenous Round to be continued into next season and beyond.
“I definitely think it deserves a round (Indigenous W/BBL Big Bash Round). I think you can look at the kind of excitement from playing groups and the staff about this week and have faith that when, and if they want to implement this again, it's going to be really well backed and supported. I think it should be something that's continued.”