Redfern All Blacks (RAB), part of the South Sydney District Junior Rugby Football League, is the oldest Aboriginal rugby league club in Australia. The club was founded in 1938 when Aboriginal people were fighting to be counted as Australians citizens. RAB was and remains important to many Aboriginal people. While the first team were all men, the now 19 teams are made up of both men and women, girls and boys. Their theme song is “We keep the ball in motion”.
In 1973, RAB was one of the seven founding member clubs that formed the NSW Koori Knockoutannually on the October long weekend. The Knockout now has over 180 teams. The winning team earns hosting rights for the following year.
These are two of the young Aboriginal Redfern All Blacks players.
Jonathan Silva is the grandson of Barbara Silva Wiradjuri, a member of the Ingram family from Cowra and Mac Silva a Kempsey Dhungatti man. The Ingram and Silva families are well known members of the local community.
Jonathan grew up in Waterloo, one of ten children. He attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and then Alexandria Park Community High School. He started playing for RAB at the age of 12.
Indeed, he loves all kinds of sport, particularly the RAB football and All Blacks basketball. He has attended the local youth centres and has loved to do the boxing sessions.
Shyla Miller-Mundine says, “My mother, Kelly Miller, is a Wiradjuri woman from Griffith and my father is Cyril Mundine, a Bundjulung man from Baryulgi.
“I grew up in Waterloo and now I live on The Block at Redfern. I went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and then Alexandria Park Community School. I started playing for RAB from Under 6s, then to Under 11s – and that was against the boys!
“I just love playing football. I am so proud when I put the RAB guernsey on and I love the history. I played representative football at South Sydney Rabbitohs for the Tarsha Gail Cup in 2022/3.
“For girls who are currently playing rugby league football, just stay there! We need you to make the change from thinking the game is only for boys. For those great women and girls who would like to play, get to it! It’s about the friendships you make and the pride of being a part of a great football team.”
This is the fifth in a series of articles by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living and working on Gadigal land. The series, a joint project of the SSH and the City of Sydney, is curated by Aunty Norma Ingram.