60 teams traveled from all over Australia, some clocking up hundreds of kilometres, to meet in Cairns for a celebration of culture and killer crossovers. Complex AU goes up north to document the untouched talent and untold stories unfolding as Australian Indigenous Basketball continues to rise.
This feature comes courtesy of Homecourt – a digital basketball publication with a unique perspective on the culture of basketball and the way it enriches lives, right across the world. More info at Homecourtmag.com
2019 was a landmark year for Indigenous basketball in Australia. On the back of years of work by trailblazers such as former NBL player and current Australian Indigenous Basketball (AIB) president Tyson Demos and, of course, Patty Mills, AIB has created countless opportunities for young ballers across the country. December 2019 punctuated a huge year for the group with the inaugural AIB National Tournament in Cairns.
The 2019 AIB National Tournament saw 60 teams and over 600 players from all over Australia take over Cairns to ball out across six divisions, from Under-14 boys and girls, all the way up to the fierce competition of the senior men and women. More than providing a platform for young men and women to play the game they love, the AIB Nationals was an opportunity to celebrate culture and identity, and come together as one mob.
It was a vibe.
To understand how we got here, we need to go back to 2014. Six years ago, a select group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from around Australia came together and established the AIB All Stars. The team faced off against the New Zealand Maori National Team at the inaugural Trans-Tasman Basketball Series. The event made history, and created a platform for AIB to build off. The group continued to turn heads through the success of the AIB All Stars in 2015 and 2016, where the men’s representative team won back-to-back Trans-Tasman titles against the New Zealand Maori.
With the elite level thriving, AIB evolved to expand its focus to incorporate grassroots competition, and soon became recognised as the preeminent group representing Indigenous basketball in Australia.