Sharks News
Posted On January 26, 2021

Yarning Circle & Smoking Ceremony with Willum Warrain

One of the Southern Peninsula Basketball Association’s core strategic pillars is Engagement & Participation, providing basketball programs for the entire Mornington Peninsula community. This includes finding ways to address the barriers that prevent different societal groups from engaging in our sport.

Under the leadership of our General Manager, Ben White, and our Community Engagement Liaison, Peter Casperz, the focus moving forward is to provide more inclusive programs.

In the new direction forward, Mr. White described “we are the leading elite basketball program on the Mornington Peninsula producing male and female athletes at State, National and International level. But we also have a responsibility to engage with every community member, especially those who have difficulties getting on the court. Anyone who wants to play basketball should be able to.”

In 2019 the Southern Peninsula Basketball Association began developing its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This is the first RAP undertaken by the club. Ben sees this as a significant cultural shift at SPBA:

“Our RAP is a document that identifies areas in which we can better engage as an ally to our indigenous ballers. We have already undertaken symbolic changes in our every day interactions with the community and within our venues. However, we need to do more than be symbolic.”

In that spirit, players and board members attended the Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association gathering on Australia Day. It was an opportunity to participate in a Yarning Circle and discuss the meaning of “Change the Date.”

Damian Paul, President of the SPBA, commented “We want to develop a culture that is welcoming and understanding. We hope this will give indigenous kids a love for the game, and maybe we will unearth the next Patty Mills or Rohanee Cox. We are a non-political organization. However, to understand the challenges that face our indigenous members of our society, we must listen to their story.”

Upon completion of the Yarning circle, the SPBA members were invited to participate in a smoking ceremony. This is an indigenous custom that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke, with cleansing properties that ward off evil spirits from the people and the land, and making a pathway for a brighter future. A path that we hope includes basketball.

The SPBA thanks Peter Aldenhoven and Taneisha Webster, and the entire Willum Warrain organisation, for the gathering and providing the opportunity for us to learn.

Thanks to the support of Civil Training Australia and Cooee Cafe, the SPBA will soon be unveiling innovative programs for the indigenous mob located on the Mornington Peninsula.