Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sydney Thunder: Unique shirt presentation aims to unite squad

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Photo Credit: Sydney Thunder

Thunder captain Rachael Haynes led a special shirt presentation at an Indigenous meeting place in Sydney Olympic Park

Sitting barefoot, and in a circle at an Indigenous meeting place by the banks of the Parramatta River, Sydney Thunder’s preparation for the upcoming Rebel Women’s Big Bash League campaign was galvanised by powerful comments that explained how strength comes from “unity” and “connection”.

Before entering the WBBL Village on Wednesday, Thunder’s players and staff gathered beneath the sprawling branches of an old mangrove tree near the Muramar Healing Space in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct.

Team captain Rachael Haynes chose to outline the foundations she wants to underpin Thunder’s latest campaign with a barefoot ceremony and yarn on the ancient land of the Wangal people, who, for thousands of years hunted, fished, and thrived in what’s now identified as Sydney Olympic Park.

“Going into a hub, everyone is excited to start the season,” she said. “But, as is the case with these tournaments, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the hub or out of it, it’s a bit of a grind towards the end – you’re playing all the time.

“I just want our group to remember being united and connected will be really important when you’re starting to get tired and start leaning on teammates to help get you through different stages.”

As an advocate for all Australians to learn about Indigenous culture and history, Haynes invited 18-year-olds Hannah Darlington and Anika Learoyd to share with their teammates their pride in boasting bloodlines linking them to Australia’s First Peoples.

For new recruit Learoyd, who is in the formative stage of her Big Bash career, it was a thrill to reveal her surprise in learning at 13 she was the descendent of an Indigenous woman on her mother’s side of the family.

“I normally avoid public speaking at all costs,” she said. “I shut up like a clam whenever there’s a team meeting. But, to be able to share that with the new team – and for Hannah and me to share our stories – was phenomenal.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about [my ancestor]. It was a taboo subject and died out along the generations. Even so, [my heritage] is something I wouldn’t change for the world. I absolutely love it.”

Darlington, who identifies as a member of the Kamilaroi people said she and her aunt are slowly – but surely – unravelling the story of their ancestor who formed a relationship with a British convict.

“It’s a common practice for the Indigenous [cricket] girls to have a yarning circle, and to chat about their cultures,” said Darlington. “Coming into a team where not everyone might be aware of Indigenous culture is really nice. It would be very special if anything I’ve said had a powerful impact.”

Haynes explained her reasons for wanting the team to sit and meet at such a special site before opening its WBBL season against the Sixers at North Sydney Oval this weekend.

“The three things we’ve committed to are education, exposure and experience – and I think today it was a really nice way to bring the group together,” she said

“It was a really great opportunity for all of us – not just for me. And, it was a really nice way to celebrate Indigenous culture, and obviously allow Hannah and Anika to share their story as well.

“I was really happy they were open enough to share their story. I think it’s a great way for our group to connect with each other and to learn from each other [about] who we are outside of cricket.”

Sydney Thunder is set to open its WBBL|06 season with a blockbuster Sydney Smash against crosstown rivals the Sydney Sixers at North Sydney Oval on 25 October.

Sydney Thunder WBBL|06 Tickets

Sunday 25 October | Vs Sydney Sixers | North Sydney Oval | 1:45PM

Saturday 31 October | Vs Adelaide Strikers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 12:15PM

Sunday 1 November | Vs Brisbane Heat | Sydney Showground Stadium | 10:20AM

Wednesday 4 November | Vs Perth Scorchers | Blacktown International Sportspark | 2:30PM

Wednesday 11 November | Vs Brisbane Heat | Blacktown International Sportspark | 7:05PM

Saturday 14 November | Vs Melbourne Stars | Sydney Showground Stadium | 7:05PM

Sunday 15 November | Vs Perth Scorchers | Sydney Showground Stadium | 10:20AM

Wednesday 18 November | Vs Sydney Sixers | Blacktown International Sportspark | 7:05PM

Sydney Thunder Memberships

Members of the Thunder Nation will get free entry to crowd-friendly Thunder WBBL|06 matches.

Memberships start from $40 and offer access to a host of new benefits and exclusive discounts. View all packages here.

For more information or to join the Thunder Nation, please contact our Membership Team on 02 8302 6092.

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