PCYC 'Nations of Origin' Biripi players will this week contest rugby league, netball, basketball and futsul games in striking new team uniforms.
More than 60 players and around 20 volunteers and PCYC Taree staff supporters travelled to Raymond Terrace on Monday for the start of the 2019 PCYC 'Nations of Origin' event which runs until July 19.
Biripi is one of 20 Indigenous nations taking part in the largest Aboriginal youth sporting event in NSW which combines sport, education, leadership programs and cultural aspects, according to PCYC NSW.
This year Biripi players will contest games in team jerseys designed by Josh Wood, a Biripi man who wanted to honour the memory of former 'Nations of Origin' rugby league player and cousin, 17-year-old Tyrell Mitchell, who died on March 16, 2018 from injuries sustained in a car accident.
For years Biripi 'Nations of Origin' players have represented in blue and yellow colours, a tribute to the sea and sand of the Biripi Nation. Josh proposed a change of colours to red and green - the colours of a former South Taree rugby league team - with a design that told the story of the Biripi people, and a hoodie that players and supporters could wear to honour the memory of Tyrell. Elders approved his design and this week more than 1000 people will see the new look Biripi Nation and its contingent of volunteers and supporters on the sidelines.
"I'm very proud of my nation and my tribe, being a Biripi man. I wanted the kids to know what it's like to wear the colours of South Taree and to acknowledge our ancestors. Our family fought for those colours and wore it with pride, and I just want to see the smiles on the faces of the kids when they can now do the same," Josh said.
The team jerseys feature bottle green and red designs on a white background, and the design includes shark fins that represent Biripi players coming together to hunt and perform, travelling symbols speak to the team going to Raymond Terrace to compete in 'Nations of Origin', and hairy grubs mark this time of the year as it is when hairy grubs would start to travel.
"When you see hairy grubs travelling east in a line from head-to-toe, that was when the Biripi people would leave from the mountains to the sea to follow the mullet run around Crowdy Bay. I have finished the design with black feet which represents the travelling of my people in the Dreamtime."
PCYC 'Nations of Origin' brings Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth together to play sport, to connect nations, and to share culture.
It has been an integral part of Josh's life as a player and a coach, and he believes it plays an important part in reconciliation.
"There's nothing more powerful than being able to step onto a field representing your mob, but also representing someone else's nation; that's something our community needs to go towards, reconciling, coming together and learning together. The only way our people can push forward as a minority is to educate people about just how beautiful our culture is."
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