The Red Dust Heelers are continuing to make an impact in the Australian community with a number of initiatives that extend far beyond the basketball court.

During the NWBL finals, the Heelers made history in the bronze medal game as five Indigenous players hit the floor at the same time.

“It’s funny to think about where we started and where we are now,” said Heelers captain and 2015 NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year Ryan Morich.

“Through small events and community work, we’ve been able to encourage and show young people with disabilities across Australia what they can achieve - this very special for them and us.”

Heelers team member Rob Pike added, “Our goal has always been to promote and to get more Indigenous people involved in the game, and it was amazing to see that coming true.”

“Myself and my team mates were quite proud of [that] because we take representing our people quite seriously,” added Heeler Derek Richards to the Kalgoolie Miner newspaper.

“To be able to do that in a final was something that we certainly will cherish for a very long time.”

Five-time Paralympian and Australia’s first Aboriginal Paralympic competitor, Kevin Coombs was also enthused about the Heelers’ accomplishments.

“As Patron of the Red Dust Heelers, I am very proud of the way they have strived and achieved the outstanding honour of fielding the first Aboriginal five on court together in the history of the NWBL.”

That feat followed a 2015 achievement when the Heelers also became the first NWBL team to run with an all-female five.

Throughout the NWBL season, the Heelers have visited Shepparton in Victoria, Rockhampton in Queensland and Port Hedland in Western Australia to showcase wheelchair basketball to the community.

They provided education on disability awareness and inclusion among primary school students, including to the Yandiyarra Indigenous community school, in remote WA.

“We also ran a corporate challenge in Port Hedland, an eight-team tournament, that got some of the biggest businesses in Australia involved including Fortescue Metals Group, Veolia, North West Waste Alliance, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and even the local police and Council” said Pike.

The Heelers will continue to work within local communities to increase awareness and help connect the public to the sport of wheelchair basketball and other Paralympic sports.

To connect with the Red Dust Heelers, contact Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy at


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