Softball Australia and the Travelodge Aussie Spirit are pleased to unveil the team’s first ever Indigenous supporter top celebrating individual athlete’s journeys from all parts of Australia, to the pinnacle of women’s softball in the country.
The supporter tops are an idea brought to life by Travelodge Aussie Spirit captain and proud Kamilaroi woman, Stacey Porter who is the current record holder for most games played for Australia with over 430 and counting, along with her West Australian teammate Leah Parry.
“Leah actually suggested it to me, we had a chat just after the Super Netball Indigenous Round, and she suggested we do something like that,” said Porter.
“It was good timing because we had just signed on to the new apparel company GAME Clothing so it was great to kickstart it and get the ball rolling.”
Based in Queensland when she’s not competing internationally, Porter reached out to Ipswich Indigenous artist Kylie Hill – after previously connecting through softball – to create a unique design.
Not only a talented artist who runs her own business, KJH Artworks, Kylie and her family are fixtures of the softball scene in Queensland.
Kylie’s journey with softball began in Mt Isa for the Wanderers Softball Association; she has since played, umpired and scored in the Redlands Softball Association for Sharks, Logan Softball Association for Chiefs, South Brisbane Softball Association for Southside Stingers and now her home Association in Ipswich where she has played with Raiders, and the Murri Taipans Softball Club while her family also is affiliated with the Tigers, and Stingers Clubs.
She has also been part of the annual Murri Women’s Softball Tournament for the past seven years as both a player with the Sista Girlz United team and playing a role in delivering the event.
Her son Jak also contributed to the design of the supporter tops. A talented softballer himself, Jak has represented Queensland at the schoolboys level, and played with the Metropolitan West Schoolboys team, Redlands – Sharks Softball Club, Logan – Chiefs Softball Club, South Brisbane – Southside Stingers and Ipswich, his home Association. He has also played for Raiders, Outlaws and is currently playing for the Murri Taipans. Jak is also an Australian accredited umpire and has coached.
Kylie and Jak have titled their design “Our Aussie Spirit Journey”, the story behind the artwork being:
“We came from all over this beautiful country we call home, Australia. We have shared our journeys with families and friends and now we want to share it with you. All the hard work, dedication, sweat and tears have made us what we are today. We will be playing hard for our country and won’t let anything bring us down. We are the Travelodge Aussie Spirit Softball Team.”
“That’s what the Aussie Spirit is, it’s all about bringing people together and Kylie did a fantastic job coming up with the design, she was super involved and really excited to be asked,” Porter said of the design and story.
“The way she and Jak pulled the drawing together is really special and I’m really proud they’ve done such a good job.”
Kylie and Jak have created two designs: a supporter top available for purchase through Softball Australia’s Apparel Partner GAME Clothing, and a training singlet to be provided exclusively to the Travelodge Aussie Spirit squad members.
Porter says having Kylie’s design on their training apparel while they’re competing for Australia at home or overseas fills her with immense pride for her culture not only herself but for Indigenous Aussie Spirit representatives before her and of course her current teammates Janice Blackman and Tarni Stepto.
“It’s such a special design, the Indigenous culture is something that myself, those before me and Janice and Tarni who are there now are really proud of,” added Porter.
“And when we’re travelling around the world and we’ve got that design on our singlet, we can connect to that spiritually really quickly. It’s a really special thing to be anywhere in the world and know that you’re connected to somewhere, that’s something you can’t make up.
“I think it’s something that can bring us together, the girls in the squad who aren’t Indigenous are all on board with it which is really cool, and it’s something for the other countries we compete against to understand a little more about the Indigenous culture and the Australian culture too.
The Travelodge Aussie Spirit Indigenous supporter top is available for pre-order from GAME Clothing.
GAME will take pre-orders for the next two weeks to ensure delivery Australia wide by Christmas. Orders close Monday 23 November 12:00pm AEDT.
Visit gameclothing.com.au to place an order.
About the Artists
Kylie is a proud Aboriginal woman from the Kalkadoon and Waanyi people from Far North Queensland Mount Isa. Kylie originated from Mount Isa but has now called Ipswich home for the past 30 years. She is well known to her community and all over Queensland.
Kylie is recognised in the softball community across Australia and has painted many softballs and equipment for this sport.
Kylie donates her art pieces to help several organisations & people to fundraise for themselves. These include Play for a Cure Foundation and individual members who play a variety of sports including Australian representatives.
Some of her artworks have gone to Las Vegas, Japan, Germany and Ireland. Kylie has worked on murals and canvas pieces for daycare centres, schools, medical centres, Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations across the country, and various government and sporting associations.
Kylie is currently the artist in residence at the Hymba Yumba Independent School in Springfield Queensland, and she loves working in the school sharing her knowledge and art with the children. Kylie has had her art in exhibitions with the Brisbane Child Safety centre and with the Inala Elders Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander organisation among others.
She likes to help people achieve their goals through her art, one of her biggest desires and inspirations is to connect with people through her art. Helping to close the gap with reconciliation and bringing people together through her art to showcase her culture is a priority for Kylie. Having eight children with her husband David, she knows how much our next generation look up to her to lead the way to keep her culture alive through her art and teaching it as well.
Jak is a proud Aboriginal man who belongs to the Kalkadoon and Waanyi people from Far North Queensland Mt Isa & Yugembah, Yuggera, Muninjali, Bundjalung and Githabul people from the Brisbane regions. Jak works at the Spirit of the Red Sands Show in Beenleigh for the past three years and also dances with his family in the Nunukul Yuggera Dance troupe in Brisbane.
He works alongside his mother in KJH Artworks and loves to paint murals and share his culture through art.
NAIDOC Week 2020, 8-15 November
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is “Always was, Always will be”
“Always Was, Always Will Be. recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.”
For more information, visit naidoc.org.au.