Students from Ashfield’s Bethlehem Catholic College are showing their true colours after designing the jerseys being worn by the Canterbury Bulldogs in this weekend’s NRL indigenous round.
The jumpers feature traditional “sun” artworks surrounded by dots, concentric circles, curved and straight lines that symbolises the coming together of the community for the annual event. Also included on the jersey are totem animals of the local area and the Cooks River, which has long enabled many tribes to come together.
Designer Darci Simpson-Carr said they aimed to tell the story of the Club’s history, the local area and the student’s heritage from a rarely-seen female perspective.
The Year 11 student, whose family hails from Griffith in the heart of the Riverina, said she was very proud to be given the opportunity to celebrate her culture and rich heritage in such a public forum.
“As an indigenous woman it really is a big deal to do something like this for such a male-dominated sport like rugby league and I want to thank the Bulldogs for the opportunity,” she said.
“To be able to show our culture, who we are and where we are from in such a meaningful way really is very beautiful.
“We hope our design reflects our spirituality and our journey through life guided by our ancestors.
“My family will all be there at the game cheering on not only the Bulldogs but our Indigenous heritage.”
Principal of Bethlehem College Marietta Tatiana said she was very proud of the students and their design for the local club.
“After only having been at Bethlehem College for a short time, I have witnessed in these young women, great pride in themselves and their culture,” she said.
“They have a deep connection with their culture and the nations from which they come. Their deep sense of spirituality and the responsibility they referred to having as stewards of God’s creation in this part of Sydney is heartwarming and reassuring.
“The Bethlehem College community is very proud of them … both for who they are as young, Catholic, Indigenous women and for the way in which they have expressed their spirituality and connectedness with their culture through the design of the jersey and its importance.“
The NRL Indigenous Round aims to highlight significant social issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is also an opportunity for the game to cement its commitment to the Indigenous community and celebrate the unique relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and rugby league.
Canterbury Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill said the club is proud to engage the community with this unique opportunity.
“Designing a Bulldogs Jersey is always a special experience, and we’re excited to give this opportunity to the students from Bethlehem College, specifically following the advice of local Elders to identify and empower the emerging female leaders of our Indigenous community,” he said.
“This unique jersey holds a special place for everyone here at Belmore, and I know that the players running out against the Eels know they’re wearing a jersey that connects them to the rich Indigenous history within our game.”