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Indigenous game has annual potential

A FANTASTIC turn-out for the Koorie Academy’s charity match last Sunday against the Victorian Allstars has buoyed all concerned, strongly building the prospect it will be an annual event according to the academy's head coach Ricky Baldwin.

Baldwin, a proud Gunaikurnai man, said the game would serve as a beacon for people to work together to tackle high youth incarceration, suicide and foster care rates among Indigenous Australians.

“When you’ve got over 22,000 Australian Indigenous kids in out of home care, that’s the modern-day Stolen generation,” he said.

“We can all learn together instead of having boardrooms and white people thinking they know what’s best, because we have to be on a journey together.

“As long as we can all come together, move forward and learn from each other, we’re going to get some good social outcomes.”

The charity game at the State Basketball Centre was part of Koorie Academy’s drive to use sport to help Aboriginal children connect to culture, learn discipline, improve health and overcome obstacles facing them in life.

Baldwin said the academy was born out of his own lived experience with basketball.

“Although my career ended very young – I was 21 because I was unaware of my trauma with my childhood – basketball took me places and it’s taken me all over the world,” he said.

“I’m pretty proud of what my team has achieved where we are now playing halftime at NBL games in front of 10,000 people.

“We had 10 young kids on that court playing a halftime game and when we raised our flag. I have never heard the crowd roar so much. It was such a proud moment.”

Cultural performances, music, prizes and giveaways were held around the charity game, eventually won 76-68 in overtime by the Koorie Academy.

Basketball Australia CEO Matt Scriven supported the game which Baldwin said could not have been any better.

“The charity game was a great event and will greatly assist in raising funds for the 2022 camps and beyond,” he said.

“It was a special day for the mob, the warmup game featuring the little ones on the big stage. The main game was deadly with so much talent on show."

The youngest player on the court, Wundarra Thomas, was voted MVP for Koorie Academy, while NBL legend Andrew Parkinson was MVP for the Allstars.

“To all the athletes who were only too happy to support the game, we thank you. To all the helpers and sponsors, we greatly appreciate your support on making this charity game come to life. And thank you to all those who showed up, had fun, volunteered, donated and played a deadly game of basketball for the crowd!” Baldwin said.

Nicole Seymour from Community Matters Most congratulated the Koorie Academy Basketball “for putting on such an awesome charity event”.

“It was great to watch and really well organised. Great admiration for Ricky Baldwin for his unwavering commitment to helping youth through positive role modelling and engagement through sport,” she said.

The Koorie Academy and Victorian Allstars outfits both featured well-known personalities.

Among the high-profile players were ex- Bachelorette Brooke Blurton, ex-Bomber Nathan Lovett-Murray, Victorian MP Ingrid Stitt and Olympian, muitiple-NBL champion and dual-league MVP Chris Anstey.

It is the first of what Koorie Academy plans to make an annual event bringing sport and community leaders together for a showcase game.

Mar 25

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