Jets seek to prove games can build a relationship bridge
THE Ipswich Jets are determined to prove sport can lead the way to improving race relations between indigenous and other Australians.
The Jets' home game against Souths-Logan at North Ipswich Reserve this afternoon doubles as the club's Indigenous Appreciation round.
The Jets have a high representation of indigenous talent, including captain Keiron Lander, vice-captain Ian Lacey, Brendon Marshall, Donald Malone, Javarn White and Kurtis Lingwoodock in the top grade alone.
Mr Lander, who works for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, says the Jets can help give future generations of indigenous Australians a better chance at equality.
"It's about more than rugby league," Mr Lander said. "It's history and culture, especially for the young ones."
Mr Lander, who was raised by his Aboriginal grandmother in south-west Queensland, has been on the receiving end of racism.
"It's not so much the names as the way they say it," he said.
"I've felt that, so imagine guys that get it all the time."
He is just glad his grandmother insisted he go to school and apply himself. Mr Lander believes education is the key to ending the divide, but is something that is being largely ignored in schools.
It is why he and the Jets are so keen to set the example for others to follow.
"Sport is so influential on our culture," he said.
"It's a driver for us and can be a key to education, employment, networks and partnerships. From that we can create more opportunities for our young ones.
"One thing we don't have is Aboriginal history being taught. Kids are taught about Anzac Day and the Queen's Birthday, but not the history of Aborigines and Torres Straight Islanders.
"It's not about holding a grudge but about acknowledging our history and working hard to move forward rather than have Aborigines keep battling."
Entry to the Jets game is free and features indigenous dancers. The Colts game is at 10.30am with the main game from 2.30pm.