Storm celebrates Close the Gap round
Thursday 26 July 2012 9:29 AM
Melbourne Storm plays Penrith Panthers in the annual NRL Close the Gap Round, Australia’s largest ever campaign to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians across a number of areas including life expectancy.
The National Rugby League (NRL) was the first sporting code to support Close the Gap, and Melbourne will embrace the initiative with a full showing of support.
Although Indigenous Australians make up less than 3% of the population, they make up more than 10% of current NRL players. Melbourne Storm’s squad features four Indigenous players, Dane Nielsen, Will Chambers, Maurice Blair and Shea Moylan, pushing above the NRL statistic to 12.5%.
For the club’s Round 22 match against the Panthers, players will wear a special jersey designed by the club’s RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) committee, including Storm’s Indigenous players. The jersey features Storm’s RAP logo, which was designed by Lenny Briggs, Yorta Yorta and Gunditijmara tribes, and Dixon Patten, Yorta Yorta and Gunnai tribes.
Manufactured by Storm’s apparel partner, KooGa, the jersey features the colours of orange and red which have previously never featured on a Storm jersey, and has a unique story to tell.
The circular logo in the middle represents Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club, with outer circles symbolising the broader Indigenous communities Melbourne Storm reaches through its various programs. The white lines represent each individual’s pathway, while the four colours represent the four seasons, diversity and change. The Yarra River flows past AAMI Park, home of Storm, and the local ‘Birrarung’ has been a meeting point and lifeline for local Aboriginal people for a millennia. Water represents life and as it flows through the Melbourne Storm community it becomes much larger, which portrays the quality of life improving.
Purchase your limited edition Close The Gap jersey here
Watch a video explaining the meaning of the jersey here
“It speaks of a world that has three hands and three lightning bolts. The hands represent respect for one another and the opportunities we are handed in our lives. The Storm bolt represents our relationships and the strong links to our community and cultural respect. The image represents power and determination to push through to reach our goals, to trust, to feel safe and fulfilled with positive connections” said Lenny Briggs.
Alongside Storm’s premium partner, Suzuki’s, logo, the sleeves feature the two flags relating to this round, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island. These flags will also be flown at AAMI Park on match day.
Limited quantities of the jerseys are available through the club’s online shop.
Storm’s first grade players have spoken of their feelings towards this important round.
“I'm really pleased the club has supported Close the Gap, in particular the specially designed jersey we will be wearing for the first time. I'm a proud Indigenous person and this round gives us all the perfect opportunity to raise awareness and support Close the Gap,” Dane Nielsen said.
Watch Will Chambers and Storm Officials establish a lifelong bond with the Wirundjeri people here
The match will be specially themed to embrace the Close the Gap round and support NRL initiatives. Auntie Diane Kerr will conduct a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony, before an Indigenous dance ceremony featuring a traditional smoking ceremony and message stick. 24 Indigenous children will form a guard of honour for Storm players. 500 tickets have also been provided for the Indigenous community.