Bund­jalung beauty

Don­ning in­dige­nous jer­seys, Bil­am­bil Jets make his­tory

Tweed Daily News - - SPORT - Steve Vi­vian steve.vi­vian@tweed­dai­lynews.com.au

I’m Abo­rig­i­nal, and I take pride in my her­itage and my back­ground.

— Jar­ius Mur­phy-phillips

RUGBY LEAGUE: The con­tri­bu­tion and sig­nif­i­cance of the lo­cal in­dige­nous com­mu­nity has been of­fi­cially etched into the fab­ric of the Bil­am­bil Jets JRL, with ju­nior play­ers due to run out to­day wear­ing stun­ning new in­dige­nous jer­seys de­signed by Tweed artist Rob Appo.

Bil­am­bil’s un­der-12 and un­der-16 play­ers were pre­sented with the jer­seys on Thurs­day by Gold Coast Ti­tans cap­tain and Bil­am­bil Ju­nior life mem­ber Ryan James. The jer­seys will be donned in lock-step with the NRL’S in­dige­nous round this week­end.

James, who played all his ju­nior footy at Bil­am­bil and was a pri­mary spon­sor of the jer­seys, said he was proud of his old club for break­ing new ground.

“It’s great this is fil­ter­ing through to the grass­roots. It means we’re tak­ing steps for­ward,” he said.

“To give back to my lo­cal club is some­thing spe­cial for me and my fam­ily. We’re very for­tu­nate to be in a po­si­tion to get the jer­seys to­gether for the kids so they can rep­re­sent their fam­i­lies, their cul­ture and the round.”

Tweed artist Rob Appo, who also played at Bil­am­bil as a ju­nior, said the aim of his jer­sey de­sign was to “achieve some­thing that ties back into the club and into this part of coun­try”.

Us­ing the mean­ing from the Bund­jalung word ‘Bil­am­bil’, or ‘Bilung­bil’, which trans­lates to ‘many sheoak trees’, Appo rooted the de­sign in the area’s lo­cal her­itage. And in a nod to the in­dige­nous play­ers, past and present, who have rep­re­sented the Bil­am­bil Jets, Appo threaded foot­prints through­out the jer­sey to sig­nify their last­ing im­pres­sion.

“The foot­prints are one of the main el­e­ments I wanted to put in,” Appo said. “They rep­re­sent the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity mem­bers that have played the game of rugby league out here at Bil­am­bil.”

The de­sign was cer­tainly good enough for in­dige­nous un­der-16 player Jar­ius Mur­phy-phillips, who said he just “wish(ed) he could keep” the jer­sey.

“I like it, be­cause I’m Abo­rig­i­nal, and I take pride in my her­itage and my back­ground. It’s spe­cial to be able to play in these and good that the club is do­ing this. It’s not just the NRL, but we can do it here too,” he said.

PHOTO: SCOTT POWICK

JER­SEY PI­O­NEERS: The Bil­am­bil Jets will be the first club in Group 18 JRL to don in­dige­nous jer­seys when the un­der-12s and un­der-16s run out in their new jumpers to­day. Ti­tans cap­tain and Bil­am­bil Ju­nior Life Mem­ber Ryan James (cen­tre) and lo­cal artist Rob Appo (right) pre­sented the ju­niors with their jer­seys on Thurs­day.

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