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“Untapped” Indigenous potential to be found

Cairns Taipans star Nate Jawai believes the NBL’s Indigenous Player Rule will help unearth young Indigenous talent across the country.

The NBL announced measures yesterday that will encourage clubs to recruit eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players* in a bid to increase representation of Indigenous peoples, retain talent and develop genuine pathways to the elite level.

Jawai, one of the league’s six Indigenous players, says the new rule is a step forward.

“I’m really pleased to see that the NBL are introducing genuine Indigenous pathways moving forward,” Jawai said via Newscorp.

“There is a lot of untapped Aboriginal and Torres Strait talent in this country and all sports codes have a responsibility to reduce the barrier to entry for them, and actively pursue their potential.

“Hopefully, this is a step closer to that.”

The rule states:

  • The NBL will fund 50% of the minimum salary for all eligible* Development Players
  • If an eligible player* is fully contracted in his 1st, 2nd or 3rd year, they will be exempt from the calculation of that club’s aggregate salaries for the purposes of the salary cap
  • For those same players but in their 4th, 5th or 6th year, a 50% exemption will apply for the purposes of salary cap calculations
  • In order to qualify for these benefits, the contracting club must have adopted an organisational cultural safety program approved by the League

NBL COO Vince Crivelli added the league is committed to ensuring its work in the Indigenous space creates meaningful, impactful, stable and tangible benefits.

“It is a commitment we take fairly seriously, and it is a genuine effort,” Crivelli told SEN.

“We have been so inspired in our past with contributions from great Indigenous athletes. The Indigenous community love their basketball and it is time we take some active steps to partner with them and see how we can further develop some amazing talent.”

There are six Indigenous players in the NBL, including Jawai, Biwali Bayles (Sydney Kings), William Hickey (Melbourne United), William McDowell-White (New Zealand Breakers), Keanu Pinder (Cairns Taipans) and Tamuri Wigness (Brisbane Bullets). Taipans assistant coach, Kerry Williams, is also Indigenous.

Indigenous Round will take place during Rounds 14-15.

*An eligible Indigenous player is an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander who has never been fully contracted by an NBL club, is in the first six years of his professional career and has not played professionally anywhere else.

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