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Former Women's National Basketball League star Sally Phillips opens up about her new passion off the court

02 June 2023

This week marks one year since former basketball star Sally Phillips was appointed as an AIS Share a Yarn (SaY) ambassador and her passion to make a difference has continued to soar.

Sally working with First Nations youth
Phillips is passionate about creating opportunities for Indigenous youth to participate in sport.

“An amazing Indigenous friend of mine once encouraged me to move from being an ally to an accomplice – "ally’s listen, accomplices act" – it was her words that encouraged me to act and sign up to be a Share a Yarn ambassador,” said Phillips.

The SaY program connects athlete ambassadors with First Nations mentors who offer them with a deeper understanding of First Nations culture and help them become advocates within their own sporting communities.

Since becoming an ambassador Phillips has immersed herself in First Nations engagements, including a special trip up north.

“I had the privilege to travel to Darwin last year where I worked with Athletics Australia to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary school students with elevating their athletic and academic aspirations.”

Prior to becoming an ambassador, Phillips was the General Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Indigenous Basketball Australia where she helped create opportunities for Indigenous youth to participate in sport.

Now Phillips is eager to build on her progress with a dream to deliver better outcomes for First Nations people in basketball.

“My Share a Yarn project aims to bridge the gap by creating opportunities for collaboration - breaking the barriers down together by sparking meaningful conversations that will lead Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people to defying the odds in basketball.”

For Reconciliation Week Phillips is encouraging Australians to have a yarn with one another about how we can help create safer spaces for First Nations people.

“We all have role to play in reconciliation and by having honest, open and vulnerable conversations we can grow the numbers of people in community who will be prepared to confidently denounce racism in any form.

“If we reflect on what ‘yarn’ means; yarning for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people was, and still is, a conversational process that involves the telling of stories as a way of passing on cultural knowledge.

“Yarning provides a safe place for all to speak without judgement. The more conversations we can have around the country that provide a safe place for people to listen and learn, the better outcomes we will start to achieve for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Phillips.

Looking forward, Phillips is excited about what the future brings and notes that her biggest achievements are yet to come.

“I was blessed to have lived through so many amazing experiences throughout my athlete life all because I could hoop.

“Never would I have imagined that 20+ years later post-retirement I would continue to be provided with opportunities that would not only change my life but have real and significant meaning because I was changing someone else’s.

“All the medals and trophies pale into insignificance now – making a difference is where it’s at.”

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