Deadly football boots designed by First Nations students from Logan, were worn proudly by Broncos stars, as they took to the field for the 2023 Indigenous Round Thursday 19 May.
Bronco Ezra Mam’s two nephews DJ Mam-Blewonski and Phillip Banu designed the boots for their uncle, which paint a picture of the player’s heritage, an illustration of where his family come from and the people who inspired and shaped his successful NRL career.
Ezra, alongside many of his teammates wore their individually painted boots when they took to the field at Suncorp Stadium.
Combining creativity with culture, Ezra’s nephews from Mabel Park State High School, created a design that pays homage to the player’s upbringing. Fellow students, Storm Nicholls and Makaylah Fing then painted the design onto the boots.
“The opportunity to paint Ezra’s boots means that I get to experience the culture that I am, and I get to paint the stories of our land and the stories of our people throughout the past years,” said DJ Mam.
After weeks spent researching, sketching and designing, the students worked tirelessly to reflect Ezra’s own stories of culture and passion, both on and off the field, using symbolism to tell their story.
“The sea turtle is what Torres Strait Islander people hunt and we used their shell as the design and followed them in a riverway towards the sea,” said DJ.
“In our culture we use the back of the stingray’s tails as a sharp weapon when we go hunting.
“It’s great to see one of my artworks being used and that it’s my uncle who got to wear them at the Indigenous round. My family are excited and happy that I was able to design one of the family members boots,” said DJ.
Reflecting on the family ties to the boots, Ezra said the boots are memorable and a special connection to his family, people, and the sport he loves.
“I’m very proud of the artwork they did and hopefully all the boys love their boots as well,” said Ezra.
“I’m very grateful to my nephews for putting an art piece together for school.”
Forming part of the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy, painting the boots gives local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students a chance to connect with Country and their culture, while learning about another’s story.
Woodridge State High School student, Georgina Dargin, also had the chance to paint league legend Kotoni Staggs’ boots, drawing inspiration from the connection and unity between First Nations people.
“It’s pretty exciting to be able to paint Kotoni’s boots given he’s a very influential Indigenous player,” said Georgina.
“I think art is incredibly important as it’s how we tell stories, and it’s how we give information to our future generations.”
Staggs said Georgina’s work was outstanding and he’s proud to wear the boots come game day.
“It brings back all the memories from where I’m from back in NSW in the small town of Wellington,” said Staggs.
In its third year, students from across Queensland and northern New South Wales participated in the painting as part of the Beyond the Broncos programs, which helps to improve school attendance rates and academic participation for Indigenous students.