A piece of Clarence culture on their backs
WHEN the Yamba Buccaneers pull on their new jersey, they will be putting on a unique piece of Lower Clarence culture.
This year the rugby union club approached Frances Belle Parker to design their new indigenous jersey and the renowned Yaegl artist has produced a work which encapsulates local culture and geography.
Ms Parker said she was honoured to have been asked to design the artwork for the jersey after the club approached her with a few ideas but left it up to her to "bring it to life”.
Entitled The Stone Canoe, the artwork represents the canoe that travelled down the Clarence River and came to rest north of Green Point, an important story for the Yaegl people.
"It was the specific location which helped inspire the work, it features an aerial view of Yamba and the river mouth with the stone canoe travelling through it,” she said.
"It depicts the journey of the men and boys who were in that canoe, who I see as warriors.”
Club president Andrew Bennett said it would be the primary strip of the Buccanettes and the President's Cup side would wear it during NAIDOC week and have the option to wear it during the finals.
"I know which jersey I would prefer to be playing in, one is a lot more appealing and has a lot more meaning than the other,” he said.
When discussing the motivation behind the jersey, Mr Bennett said the club wanted to be inclusive and show that they were a club for everybody as well as recognising the history of indigenous players in the club.
"First of all we wanted an artist from on country and not off country so it was respectful of the Yaegl people.
"It is not being done as a gimmick. It is something the club has carefully considered and believe is an important part of the reconciliation which needs to continue to go on.”
Similarly, Ms Parker saw that combining culture with sport was a way to bring respect to First Nations people and share stories that had not often been shared publicly in the past.
"It is a great chance to be able to share a part of our culture with the wider community.”
She also hoped it gave Aboriginal players a "sense of ownership” and help foster a sense of pride in a team which had engaged a local Yaegl artist to help create the jersey.
Mr Bennett said the the artwork would be auctioned off to raise money for junior rugby at the club and more details would be available at a later date.
The Buccaneers match against Grafton Redmen at Yamba Oval on July 13 would be the first opportunity for the public to see the jerseys when they are presented to the players.
Ms Parker is not alone as a Clarence Valley artist designing jerseys. Maclean artist Joe Walker designed the South Sydney Rabbitohs indigenous jersey this year.
More details on page 34.