Grow a Star funding has brought unexpected life changing opportunities for Krystal Dallinger.
As an aspiring netballer, Krystal relocated to Newcastle from her hometown of Dubbo with her mum back in 2017, so she could pursue her sporting passion. The former Hunter Sports High student says she and her mum had to leave a lot behind when they came to Newcastle to live with her grandmother.
Not long after their move, Krystal was identified for the Hunter Academy of Sport’s program and she became a recipient of the Grow a Star program.
“The Grow a Star funding was big for my mum and I,” Krystal says. “It allowed me to put myself out there to develop my netball skills through the Academy and then Australian netballer Sam Poolman’s Aspire Netball program.”
She was 6 weeks into her coaching program with Australian netballer, Sam Poolman when she suffered an ankle injury during the second half of the first game. Ending up in a moon boot for some time, while she recovered Krystal began to use her spare time dabbling in painting.
Krystal says she has always had an interest in creative arts and took up photography as an elective in Dubbo, however the subject wasn’t available when she moved to Newcastle, so she found herself in an art class in Year 10. She struggled with this initially as she didn’t think she had any skills in this area or even the capability to complete the subject. After speaking with her family, they suggested that she should explore cultural art and her Indigenous heritage, which is ultimately what she did, and her efforts produced her first Indigenous artwork which took approximately eight months to complete.
After spending some months off the netball court with her injury, Krystal was so appreciative to be still included by Sam Poolman in the Aspire program, she designed and painted a hat for Sam as a thank you gift.
Sam was absolutely stunned at Krystal’s talent. At the time, Giants Netball were looking for a designer for the Suncorp Super Netball Indigenous Round, so she went directly to the Club and told them if they wanted an aspiring netballer with incredible talent then they should take a chance on Krystal. Sam says “Krystal’s art has opened up a topical conversation in sport, promoting inclusivity and what it means and how we can all play a part in closing the gap.”
Krystal’s artwork was first used for the Giants Indigenous Round uniforms in 2018 and four years on, she is still creating designs for the club. She has also designed the uniform worn by the Dubbo Rhinos rugby union team, a pair of shoes for Emily Dunn who plays for the South Coast Blaze in the Premiere League, the Dubbo women’s basketball team which competes every year in the Windmill Competition and an Australian Indigenous awareness t-shirt for Miles Community College in Montana, USA.
She also designed a pair of shoes for her cousin, Rebekah Dallinger, an ex-player of the Australian Indigenous Basketball team. She wore the shoes in the grand final in New Zealand in 2019. The game was televised and the shoes attracted a lot of attention from the media and commentators throughout the game! She’s now playing college basketball in Montana, USA and still has the shoes with her.
As a proud Indigenous woman from the Kamilaroi Nation, Krystal’s journey with her art is closely linked to her own experiences with her culture. The first book her mother read to her when she was a child, to share stories of the Dreamtime, was Rainbow Serpent. Krystal has incorporated this and other elements into the Giants’ 2020 uniform.
Krystal says “The cultural learning I’ve experienced has been amazing. I’m blessed with such a supportive family, they help me every step of the way and I couldn't do it without them. Everything I learn is not only Aboriginal history but it’s my family’s history too and it’s so awesome to just be able to sit and take in how knowledgeable they all are.
All of this impacts my art so much. Some of the stories I hear are so inspiring that it drives me to put in the most effort I can. Indigenous art is so beautiful but unfortunately some of it has been lost throughout history so having the skills to do it inspires me to revive this culture and find what has been lost.”
Krystal is taking a short break from netball and is now pursuing her passion for art.
Much of it is focused on the Indigenous dot painting method and her pieces are incredibly intricate and colourful, often taking her many months to complete.
Connecting the dots is an analogy that could be applied to Krystal’s life path over the past few years…. from an obsession with netball to an accidental introduction to art, revealing a previously unknown talent which is now gaining the attention of many, not only in our local community but on the national stage.
Opportunities provided by Grow a Star, really can make dreams a reality.