Cockburn will become the first team across the NBL1 competition to adopt a new name in recognition of First Nations Round in the NBL1 West this week, becoming the Beeliar Boodjar Cougars.
In recognition of NAIDOC Week, the Cockburn Basketball Association will be acknowledged and paying respect to the traditional owners by becoming the Beelier Boodjar Cougars with that name to be used in all instances for this week’s double-header away to the Willetton Tigers and at home to the Goldfields Giants.
The City of Cockburn’s traditional owners are the Beeliar Nyungar people, who are one of the clans of the Whadjuk so the name change is in respect to them. Beeliar Boodjar literally means ‘river country’.
The name change from the Cougars isn’t just a token gesture either, it’s going to be reflected completely in every mention of Beeliar Boodjar playing this weekend first on Saturday against Willetton at Willetton Basketball Stadium and then Sunday at Wally Hagan Stadium against Goldfields.
The Beeliar Boodjar name will be used in every acknowledgement of the Cougars this week and that will include through all NBL1 West fixtures, standings and on the live stream of both games against the Tigers and Giants, including being used by the commentary team.
This will be done to respectfully acknowledge the people and land on which the Cougar community plays.
The Cougars teams will also wear specially designed uniforms this weekend in recognition of First Nations Round in the NBL1.
Dr Richard Walley has again been behind the design of the Cougars uniforms and he explains how it came about.
“The design is a representation of Beeliar Boodjar of the Beeliar Nyungar people which is reflected on the front of the singlet in Nyungar language,” Dr Walley said.
“This includes the families from all walks of life involved in the Cougar family and if you go one layer towards the centre, you reach all the players, coaches, board, volunteers and staff.
“The blocks on the outside represent the swamp land proudly a part of this land, with the sharp lines going diagonally across the design highlight the river feeding the ocean, also reflective of Cockburn’s connection to both wetlands and the water on the coast.
“The centre, the heart of the artwork, has two bold C’s representing the Cockburn Cougars and is surrounded by several white blocks showing family thread of the Cougar family.”
Walley has become one of the most significant voices for Indigenous voices throughout Western Australia and the increased respect and acknowledgement of the culture is something he’s played a big part of right across the state in a whole range of sports.
But it’s the personal connection that he has with the Cougar Family that makes this take on even greater significance for him.
“Having a tie to the place myself helps you have the feeling of knowing what you want to represent because you’re a part of it. When you do something for somewhere else that you are not part of you’re doing an interpretation of something, but this one here we are doing an interpretation with,” Walley said.
“That’s the big thing, it’s an interpretation with Cockburn I can do. Cockburn is an association with many players because apart from the main district or SBL or NBL1 sides, the local competition was second to one in the state going back a lot of years and it encouraged excellence from people.
“It also became a fantastic feeding ground for the young ones to come and see people play, and then you watch the generations with grandparents coming to watch their grandchildren. What I’m finding now when I come down here is that I see a lot of my old friends whose grandchildren are playing.
“That intergeneration is really important and to be part of that is a special thing. My daughter comes to play here, my sons played here and I’ve got nephews, nieces and grandnephews and grandnieces who come to play here. All of that family connection is really important and I think that’s when it’s rewarding because you’re not just designing something for, you’re designing with.”