Basketball Victoria’s #OneAfrica Match Unites a Community
Under the lights of Dandenong Stadium, Basketball Victoria celebrated African culture and heritage through song, music and dance.
The Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) #OneAfrica match on Wednesday 29 November brought together the African Victorian basketball communities in an attempt to reduce hostility and historical conflict.
Pre-match entertainment featured everything you could imagine from a traditional African celebration. Drumming, barefoot dancing and vibrant colours, the stadium erupted in song and dance building enthusiasm for the game ahead.
Sponsored by the Dandenong Rangers WNBL team from the City of Greater Dandenong, a perfect fit for a community to support such an event given its breath of diverse and multicultural residents.
Basketball Victoria’s Aboriginal and East African Basketball Lead Matt Dunstan said, “The #OneAfrica match showcased African heritage and culture to the Australian basketball community”.
“Basketball plays an important role within the community that goes far beyond the basketball court. It is great that we can open our doors to the African community, welcome them in as our guests and celebrate the proud culture with them”.
|Dandenong Rangers cheering on the sideline||Pre-match entertainment of traditional African dancing|
The message of the night was unity and provided African communities who now call Australia home, to bury the stories of their culture and history of tribal violence and use basketball as a means to bring people together.
Dunstan went on further to say, “The Dandenong Rangers and the basketball community should be very proud that through our sport we are impacting lives in such positive ways, quite often without realising we are doing it”.
|Carley Mijović receiving West African gift after the match||Young African signers|
Given it was a Rangers home game, players donned new unique African inspired artwork on their uniforms to reinforce the #OneAfrica message.
Prior to the match was a gift exchange among the players of handmade bracelets from West Africa and coaches and referees also exchanged glass beaded necklaces from Sudan.
Carley Mijović won MVP of the match and received a one-of-a-kind bronze giraffe figurine direct from West Africa. Not-for-profit organisation TEAR Australia, known for their charity work in the developing world, organised for 10 trees to be planted in South Sudan in Carley’s name, encouraging African women to become teachers.
The night was a great success bridging the gap between African communities in Victoria, and reminding us all that sport has a great power to connect people regardless of race, religion and ethnicity.
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