Basketball Australia together with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), the RAAF and Indigenous Basketball Australia have celebrated NAIDOC Week with a special visit to the Torres Strait to run a free community basketball day.
The RAAF transported six Olympians and four Indigenous Olympian Coaching Scholarship holders to Horn Island on a C-27J Spartan for two days of community and cultural interactions.
Thursday Island local and dual Olympic basketballer Danny Morseu was joined by fellow AOC Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) members and Olympians Patrick Johnson, Beki Smith, Kyle van der Kuyp, Olympic boxer and artist Brad Hore and AOC Athletes’ Commission member Rowie Webster, with AOC President Ian Chesterman and CEO Matt Carroll.
In an open community day, the four inaugural recipients of the Australian Olympic Indigenous Coaching Scholarships and Olympians ran a basketball clinic for more than 50 young locals, with RAAF members also hitting the court before providing a BBQ for all attendees and their families.
Beki Smith and Brad Hore also delivered an “Olympics Unleashed” session, sharing their own Olympic journeys with the children to demonstrate the importance of goal setting and overcoming challenges to pursue whatever passion they may have.
As part of the day, the RAAF took special guests on a flight over the Torres Strait. Kaurareg traditional owners Aunty Enid Tom and Barbara Miskin, were able to view their lands from a new perspective. Also on board were Olympians Johnson, Morseu and van der Kuyp, and AOC’s Chesterman and Carroll taking in the unique view of the Torres Strait from the back of the Spartan.
AOC President Ian Chesterman said this visit highlights the power of Olympic sport to inspire.
“It’s great to be here in the Torres Strait Islands to be able to bring Olympians into community, run the basketball day with Indigenous Scholarship coaches and work effectively with a new partner in the RAAF, showing what can be achieved with good teamwork to really make a contribution,” Mr Chesterman said.
Dual Olympic basketballer and Torres Strait Islander Danny Morseu welcomed the guests to his traditional homeland.
“It gives me great pride to welcome the AOC, RAAF, IBA and my fellow Olympians to my home of Torres Strait Islands,” Morseu said. “It’s historic to have the leadership of the AOC and the RAAF come up to the Torres Strait, it’s great for our community, this trip has given a great energy.
“It’s really good for our kids to be aware of the different pathways and that the Olympic movement is open to them. We want to see change and reform and the advancement of Torres Strait Islander people in this country, creating opportunities and pathways through sport – refereeing, administration, coaching, playing.”
“Wearing the green and gold is the proudest moment of my life as a Torres Strait Islander. Brisbane 2032 offers opportunities for people to understand us, come here and enjoy this beautiful environment. With tourism and pathways, working in partnership with government, to get some truly good outcomes for this region will be fantastic.”
12-year-old Carmen Dorante from Yam Island in the Torres Strait was inspired to chase her own Olympic dream.
“Basketball is my favourite sport, I’ve played since I was six and I want to be a basketball Olympian,” Carmen said. “My uncle Patty Mills played a lot, he worked hard to get there. I feel I can do what he can do.”
“I had fun today and learned a lot. I want to be playing basketball in the Olympics in 2032.”