Despite most of the major NAIDOC events and rallies around Australian being cancelled due to social distancing, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community have this week still managed to showcase black excellence on the world stage.

With Ash Barty securing her place in the Wimbledon final overnight, Bam Bam Tuivasa fighting on the heavyweight undercard before Conor McGregor and Patty Mills selected as the official Australian flag bearer at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony later this month – it’s become clear that not even a major pandemic can muffle the most important week on the calendar for mob.

The 2021 theme for NAIDOC week is Heal Country. It calls for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. According to NAIDOC, Country is inherent to the identity of First Nations peoples.

While Mills, Barty and Tuivasa will be competing away from country, the steel city Newcastle will also be hosting its own celebration of black excellence next Wednesday.

Game III of the 20201 State Of Origin match will see close to ten Indigenous players will take to the pitch in both jerseys.

While the Indigenous community’s achievements certainly aren’t limited to just sport, all of the usual awards ceremonies highlighting academia and arts will be done digitally this year – leaving only the professional athletes to be celebrated in front of roaring fans, in foreign countries that have a much better grip on the virus at this current time.

And as the global broadcasts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander talent continues through June, the statistics are only going to make for the deadliest NAIDOC yet on the sporting front.

The Tokyo-bound Australian Olympic team will include the largest number of Indigenous athletes in games history. 16 Indigenous athletes heading to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Of the 472 athletes, 16 will represent the First Nations people of Australia, competing in 11 sports.

All of this from a community that makes up 4% of the total Australian population. Not a bad NAIDOC at all.

Always was, always will be.


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