How a Noongar artist brought her family’s story to life on the basketball court

Moorditj Keila young gun and uniform designer Angel Smith with basketballers Alice Inman and Stanley Webb modelling the club's new outfits. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Moorditj Keila young gun and uniform designer Angel Smith with basketballers Alice Inman and Stanley Webb modelling the club's new outfits. Picture: Matt Jelonek

TEENAGE basketballer Angel Smith is a creator on court and off it, too.

The young star of Moorditj Keila basketball is the artist behind the design of the successful South Perth club’s first proper uniform.

And like all projects that are 10 years or more in the making, Angel’s black, red and yellow artwork has a backstory and deeper meaning.

“The balga tree represents home because we’re Noongars and that’s Noongar land,” she said.

“The circles are a meeting place, which is the community.

“And then the kangaroos is about moving forward, because we’re growing and moving forward with our basketball community.”

Current players helped to unveil the new red, black and yellow uniforms recently in South Perth. Picture: Matt Jelonek


Circles on the uniform represent a meeting place, while kangaroo footprints on the design indicate moving forward. Picture: Matt Jelonek

Moorditj Keila, which has already produced Perth Lynx WNBL prospect Nes’Eya Williams, puts about 100 young basketballers on the domestic courts at Leisurelife in Victoria Park each weekend.

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Club coordinator Honey Webb said they prioritised creating pathways in life for players and their families, building strength in unity and nurturing commitment to family through sport ahead of winning games.

“The strong and developed players have been taught from a young age to look after their teammates so that when they leave for a higher age group their teammates will be okay,” she said.

“That is one of our most valued measures of success, creating true team players.”

However they’ve been extremely successful on court in recent times too, with more than half of their eight junior teams winning grand finals last season.

Video credit: Barefoot Media CO

“That’s the strength of our club right there on our jerseys”

While the club’s foundations are firmly rooted in local Aboriginal community and culture, its growth over time has brought players and volunteers of all backgrounds who see value in focusing on community building over individual differences.

They’ve also assembled a crack team of leaders to help drive the club forward, with former South Perth Mayor James Best and Dome coffees founder Patria Jafferies among those who have been inspired to lend their professionalism to the operation.

And it’s showing. The recent uniform unveiling event drew a big crowd that including Sports Minister Mick Murray, well-known performer Phil Walley-Stack and several Basketball WA representatives.

Chairman James Best, Honey Webb and Phil Walley-Stack at the uniform unveiling. Picture: Matt Jelonek

Angel, who is only 16 yet the club’s longest-serving player, is driven to let basketball take her as far as it can and will.

As well as domestic games on Saturday, the Clontarf Aboriginal College student plays at under-18 level for Perth Redbacks in the WA Basketball League on Sundays.

She aspires to one day reach the national level with Perth Lynx, a path that could lead her to again share a court with Williams.

“Nes’Eya and I played in the same team for Moorditj Keila, we both started together when we were little,” she said.

“I just love basketball. I love playing it, I love being in a team and working together.”

Sports Minister Mick Murray (left) was at the unveiling to check out the new uniforms modeled by Moorditj Keila players and designed by Angel Smith (second from left). Picture: Matt Jelonek

The new uniform was produced by Pilbara-based Aboriginal business Jatu Clothing and replaced the club’s old playing strip of simple, matching shirts and a logo.

Ms Webb was thrilled with the new look, saying it was an important milestone for Moorditj Keila and it’s desire to continue to empower local Aboriginal children with skills and pride.

“These kangaroo footprints mean we are actually moving forward because yongas (kangaroos) don’t bounce backwards, they don’t bounce sidewards, they just sort of keep bouncing forward,” she said.

“So that’s the strength of our club right there on our jerseys.

“We are moving forward very strong, one direction and all together.

“And bouncing is very significant because we play basketball.

“That is the story of our beautiful new look and our beautiful new jersey, it’s been passed down from my father to myself to my daughter and its come out in our beautiful artwork for our jerseys.”

Our new jerseys for Moorditj Keila Basketball Club designed by Angel Smith

Posted by Moorditj Keila on Monday, 15 April 2019