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Pirtek Parramatta Eels player Luke Kelly will wear football boots with traditional Aboriginal painting this Saturday night when the Eels take on the Penrith Panthers to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

The design was painted on by former Parramatta Eels Under 20s player Toby Key, who Luke approached about having them made.

"It's a very important round for Aboriginal people, it raises a lot of awareness; and the boots - a lot of players get the boots painted up and I thought I'd jump on board," he said.

"It's definitely a good thing to raise awareness, and they look pretty good as well!"

Kelly's parents are both Aboriginal, with his mum from Dubbo and dad heralding from Katherine in the Northern Territory, where Luke grew up.

"You're always proud to represent your family first and foremost, and representing Aboriginal people is something I'm very proud of," he said.

"And wearing these boots and doing it at NAIDOC Week round is extra special."

Toby Key says he was stoked to be asked to design and paint the boots.

"My dad is from Tingha, and I was taught to paint by an old friend of mine Jade Williams. We paint almost anything from canvas paintings to sportswear," he said.

"I met Luke Kelly through the Eels - and there wasn't really a story to his particular boots, as I only really paint stories on big canvases. It's more that the colours represent our mob's colours."

Click here to find out more about Toby's Aboriginal artwork.

After starting his NRL career at the Melbourne Storm and making the move up to Parramatta, Kelly says he's proud to set an example to other indigenous children wanting to play first grade.

"You hear it all the time, but if a kid like myself from Katherine can play in the NRL, then anyone can," he said.

"It's a dream that's definitely achievable, and the more kids who play footy the better."

Naming David Peachey, Nathan Blacklock and Preston Campbell as his favourite Aboriginal players growing up, Kelly says it's great to see high-profile NRL stars give NAIDOC Week a voice.

"Australia is a very sports-loving country, and some of the biggest names in the NRL are Aboriginal people, like Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston."

"Things they do, people stand up and listen, especially in the outside community. So I think they definitely have a massive role in [giving this issue a voice]."

Click here to see how the Parramatta Eels are going to be celebrating NAIDOC Week this Saturday night.
Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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