6 June 2023

In a league of his own – Favero scores top prize at Griffith Reconciliation Week basketball tournament

| Oliver Jacques
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man, woman and boy with trophy

MVP award winner Xavier Favero with the AMS’s Jack Lyons and Vickie Louise Simpson. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Budding rugby league star Xavier Favero has surprised himself by taking the Most Valuable Player award at the Reconciliation Week basketball tournament in Griffith on Thursday (1 June).

“This isn’t even my sport,” the 13-year-old Murrumbidgee Regional High School (MRHS) student said. “I play rugby league, I just picked [basketball] up. It’s crazy that I won, I don’t even score, I was just getting rebounds and passing to people.”

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The Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) organised the tournament to mark National Reconciliation Week, which has been held between 27 May and 3 June every year since 1996 to help people learn about their shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how they can contribute to achieving reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

Teams representing Griffith high schools MRHS and Marian Catholic College, and Riverina-based Indigenous academies Clontarf and Tirkandi Inaburra, competed in junior and senior Reconciliation Cup events as well as the Roger Penrith Memorial Cup, named after the highly respected former director of the Griffith Clontarf Academy, who died in 2020.

“We try to have at least one representative from each culture in each team … Italians, Islanders, Asians … we are reconciling cultures,” said Jacinta Simpson, who helped organise the event.

“This event is about bringing different cultures together and acknowledging what Reconciliation Week is about.

“Vickie Louise Simpson [of the AMS] started doing this in 2017, they started with a footy competition … it keeps getting bigger.

“This is the first one we’ve had since COVID, so we’ve made it a big one.”

MCC beat MRHS in the grand final of the junior Reconciliation Cup, while the public school turned the tables on MCC in the final of the senior event, winning by one point in extra time. MCC won the grand final of the Roger Penrith Memorial Cup, narrowly beating the Clontarf academy.

young basketball team

Marian Catholic College’s successful Roger Penrith Memorial Cup team. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

The crowd was kept entertained throughout the day by Jayden Oakley, better known as FinesseMane, a Melbourne-based basketball-themed content creator with just under 80,000 Instagram followers, who provided witty commentary for the matches.

“I was able to bring some [Puma] shoes and vouchers to give away and also wanted to contribute some money for the Marrambidya Dance Group [Griffith’s first Indigenous dance group, which performed on the day],” he said.

READ ALSO ‘We didn’t have this growing up’: Griffith’s first Indigenous dance group launched

FinesseMane, who used to live in Griffith, was able to explain his recent social media success.

“I love what I’m doing and I have fun with it. I just make videos, I have fun with it and people evidently love them too.”

young man wearing hoodie

Jayden Oakley, aka FinesseMane, provided great commentary. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

MVP Xavier Favero, who dreams of playing in the NRL, explained what Reconciliation Week meant to him.

“It’s a very good week. We’re able to bring our voice out about the Stolen Generation. It means a lot to Aboriginal kids and adults.”

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