First Nations students to create history in national sports competition

Charles Darwin University

For the first time ever, Charles Darwin University (CDU) will field a team of 14 students and athletes to compete in next week’s Indigenous Nationals, being held in Brisbane.

The action gets underway this Sunday, June 26, where students from universities across Australia, will compete in four core sports – touch football, netball, basketball, and volleyball.

CDU’s team will be called Dangudbila, the Larrakia word for Kangaroo, which represents the team’s journey as they move forward and build strong connections and create pathways for future students.

The majority of the students competing at the event are based in Darwin, with others from Howard Springs and Ngukkur, and are studying a range of courses at CDU including arts, law, health science, psychology, and social work.

Team member Teegan Wattam, 22, of Howard River Park is a proud Larrakia women who is studying a Bachelor of Health Science, Master of Speech and Language Therapy at CDU, is pleased to represent the Territory on a national level as a part of the competition.

“The Indigenous Nationals is not only about gathering to play sport, it’s also about having a yarn with our mob about our culture, university and life experiences and building connections with each other,” Ms Wattam said.

“As the first CDU team, we have an opportunity to be role models and inspire younger generations of our mob to go to university and participate in these great opportunities.”

CDU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt was part of the early competition in the late 1990s when it was known as the Indigenous Uni Games.

“I was a student then, studying at the University of Sydney. It gave us an opportunity to network with other Indigenous students across the country and come together to compete,” Professor Bolt said.

Professor Bolt said the event encourages the students to gain independence and develop their teamwork skills and networks.

“The event is a celebration of First Nations culture and reinforces identity through unity, health, fitness and well-being.”

CDU’s Indigenous Nationals Coordinator, Jeannette O’Brien said the competition provides students with the opportunity to celebrate the rich sporting culture of First Nations Australians.

“This is an opportunity for First Nations students to participate in a national sporting competition with the goal to make it an annual event for CDU students to attend every year,” Ms O’Brien said.

Before flying out, the athletes were presented with their team uniforms by Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman AO, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt at the Casuarina campus.

CDU Art Student, Raquel Larkins supplied the artwork for the uniforms and chose the Aboriginal meeting place symbol as the centre focus point to show everyone coming together on common ground.

The Indigenous Nationals runs from June 26-30 in Brisbane, Queensland.

/Public Release.