A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a lazy day at home watching television on the weekend, viewing nothing in particular, just hanging out with my children and killing time until the rugby league match of the round later that day. As I was flicking through the channels I came across a game of netball on the ABC and was about to flick to another channel when I observed an attractive athletic looking Indigenous lady dominate in the position of goal attack.
As an avid netball follower, or at least a Saturday dad who goes along to every winter morning game with the family to watch daughter Jayde play in the under 11s, I am now familiar with GA, WA, C, GS, WD, GD and GK positions. Whoever this talented lady was, her position of GA emblazoned on her shirt spoke volumes of the responsibility her coach and team had placed in her - akin to Jonathan Thurston (league) at five eight or Jeff Farmer (aussie rules) at full forward.
I wasn’t sure that the gifted netballer playing for the Allied Pickford Melbourne Kestrels was in fact Indigenous until the commentator mentioned “… a great goal by Franklin.” So often in the past I’ve made calls on athletes, like Mal Michaels (Lions), Daniel Kerr (West Coast), Tim Cahill (Australian soccer), Geoff Huegill (swimming) and many others, being Indigenous only to read later that they’re in fact Papua New Guinean, Pacific Islander or Asian.
I had an idea who this gifted athlete was and felt a bit silly for doubting my initial thoughts soon after when confirmed by the TV commentator. Besides Bianca not only plays netball at a high level but is also a talented columnist for the Koori Mail, writing on women’s sport under Sister Talk.
So impressed was I of Bianca’s game that I decided to email her the next working day to ask if she could send an autographed photo of herself to Jayde. I knew Jayde would be excited to receive a letter in the mail from someone who has a national profile in the sport she loves. I might be biased but I reckon the Australian netball team could do with a bit of black magic from Bianca given their recent poor form against the New Zealand Silver Ferns.
The email sent was also with the family’s blessing and desire for Jayde to have an Indigenous role model outside her immediate family. What I didn’t count on was a wonderfully personalised letter from Bianca to Jayde with several poignant points: “… always strive to do your best and never give up” and “… take care and hopefully I will be watching you one day on TV”. At the bottom of the letter were the words “Believe in the magic of your dreams.”
To see the reaction on the face of my daughter when she opened the letter almost brought tears to my eyes and to this day I’m glad to report that Jayde carries the autographed card in her school bag and wears the blue netball wrist band permanently.
Steven Spielberg, US film director and producer, was quoted in The Times, 1985, as saying “I dream for a living”. Well I’m convinced that Jayde will work very hard at trying to realise her dream of playing netball for Australia - and if she doesn’t make it she will always remember that wonderful quote from her netball role model, Bianca Franklin.
A week after all this upbeat news I was saddened to hear that Indigenous children, in my region, had appeared in court on a number of charges - the most serious being a breach of probation for break and enter offences. I shared the bad news with my wife Rhonda of a 14-year-old recently incarcerated and of two others of a similar age being ordered out of their town for repeat offences. I’m not sure if police can order kids that young out of town and force their single mums to uproot and move to an unfamiliar community, away from supportive family and friends.
For several days I couldn’t help but think of these young fellas and worried about where they went off the rails.
Today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s leaders and I often wonder of our future if so many of them are starting to accumulate lengthy records for criminal convictions. In most large Indigenous communities the statistics on troubled youth fronting the judiciary is appalling and one does not need to be a Rhode’s scholar to realise that the next generation’s leadership pool will be unsatisfactorily finite if this rate is sustained.
So how bad is the problem with Indigenous youth?
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
1 post so far.