The Parramatta Eels are proud to unveil their 2022 Indigenous jersey designed by contemporary Aboriginal artist Sean Kinchela, a proud Gamilaroi and Wiradjuri Man who tells stories passed down from his family through art.
“Indigenous Round is my favourite of the season, I’m so proud to be able to tell stories about my people through art and sport. As an Eels supporter it’s always been my dream to showcase my artwork on the Parramatta jersey.”
Working in Indigenous Health at Katungul Aboriginal Medical Service, Sean visits pre-schools and public schools performing ear health screening checks for Indigenous students to ensure they have no ear health issues that may alter their learning or impact their everyday lives.
“Education is so important to me and my people. I was at a difficult stage in my life as a teenager, and I couldn’t find a school that allowed me to enrol and finish my Year 10 education. I came across Father Chris Riley’s “Youth Off The Streets” program which helped me immensely and allowed me to finish my education.”
As such, the Parramatta Eels will donate $10 from every Indigenous jersey sold to Father Chris Riley’s Aboriginal community outreach program supporting Aboriginal young people.
“There are so many homeless Indigenous kids on the streets struggling to find stable homes, families and guidance so I am honoured to be able to help support them through this jersey design.
The design is inspired by the Burramattagal People, the local clan known to have settled into Parramatta. The meeting places represent some of Sydney's clan groups who interacted and used the Parramatta River as a means of living – from the Darug People who made camp within Greater Western Sydney to the Toongagal People who lived within the area of Toongabbie.
Aboriginal People had a close and significant relationship with the Parramatta River for thousands of years. The Eel in the centre of the jersey represents the River which was used as a food source, cultural practice grounds and a means of transport. Aboriginal People lived off the ocean and rivers sustainably for thousands of years.
“I take a lot of pride in sharing my culture, not only with my family and friends but also with non-Indigenous people all around the world.”
“We are the oldest living culture in the world and living in this country every Australian should be proud of our heritage and beautiful strong culture we live and breathe every day.”
Cultural elements of the jersey design
Boomerang and Spear
These symbols represent three people - one older alongside two younger people learning how to fish. Fishing was a cultural practice and was passed down generation after generation for over 50,000 years. This was a way of life for the Darug People and other clans around Sydney.
Green and White Boomerang
This represents people, they are at the top of the boomerang overlooking our community and home with the boomerang being a symbol of strength and resilience.
The grouping of yellow and orange dots
The artist has formed these to create fishing channels and the lines in-between represent fishing lines. Aboriginal People practiced advanced methods of fishing. Some Aboriginal fish traps have been dated back over 40,000 years.
Yellow group of dots around the light blue boomerangs and meeting places
They represent fishing channels on the river and fishing rock traps. In between the fish traps are symbols for people and camps showing that fishing was a way of life. The blue oval shaped symbols represent fish travelling along the channel and fish traps.
Sean uses cross hatching in all his paintings and design as a representation of his family ties to the story. Where the light blue colour starts under the cross hatching above the Eel and below it represents the Parramatta River itself and everything within the boundaries are the stories behind the River.