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The Danny Morseu collection

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

St Kilda players top worn by Morseu
St Kilda players top worn by Morseu (1977-81).

The National Museum is proud to hold the Danny Morseu collection. It is a rare biographical collection representing the basketball career of an Australian sporting champion, spanning four decades. Morseu has played with the most influential clubs in Australia and he represented Australia at 27 internationals, from 1976 through to the late 1980s, including 12 world cup basketball games. This collection represents Morseu's personal story as he progressed from championship player to international sporting ambassador, to his current role as mentor for other young Indigenous basketball players.

Morseu was a founding player in the National Basketball League (NBL). His contribution and achievements in the sport of basketball were recognised in 2002 when he was inducted into the NBL Hall of Fame. Morseu was part of the team that won bronze at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and he also represented Australia at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In experiencing Morseu's story, we can also come to understand the rise in basketball's popularity to become a national sport in Australia. Morseu played for the Saint Kilda Pumas (Victoria), who were the championship team throughout the 1970s. As the championship team, the Pumas represented Australia at international competitions and championships and were pivotal in raising the domestic profile of the sport to a level where a national league was established in Australia in 1978. The Pumas were also one of the few teams to tour within Australia, thereby promoting the game across the country and encouraging skills development in the next generation.

Cover of The Australian Basketballer magazine
Morseu on the cover of the first issue of The Australian Basketballer magazine.

It was during the 1976 domestic tour that Brian Kerle, then coach of the Pumas, scouted Morseu and offered him the opportunity to play professional basketball in Melbourne. By the early 1980s 'basketball became the largest Olympic sport in Australia and the largest indoor sport in Australia'.1 Morseu was part of the promotion of the game and he featured on the covers of magazines, on posters, in television advertising and, later in his career, he appeared on and presented televised sport programs. The collection is made up of player uniforms, awards, personal documentation, photos (both personal and official event photos) and souvenirs from significant events in which Morseu participated. It also includes limited-edition publications and objects representing the development of basketball as a national sport in Australia. A significant item in the collection is a hand-carved pearl shell, which was awarded to Morseu in 1980 by the Torres Strait Islander community in recognition of his achievements.

Achievement Award (1980) given to Morseu by the Torres Strait Island Community
Achievement Award (1980) given to Morseu by the Torres Strait Island Community.

Another important story told through this collection is the part that basketball has played in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly in the Queensland and Northern Territory regions. Since the 1960s basketball has been on par with football as a sport played in communities for recreation and community development. Sport in the Torres Strait Islander communities has become an avenue to encourage cultural expression and address other issues, such as health. Diabetes is a major problem that is faced by Torres Strait Islander communities and in the 1990s basketball was used by Australian Government agencies as a strategic avenue to promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle. It is also a way of engaging informally with other communities. By the early 1980s the sport had became a part of the 'knockout competitions' that are a regular part of the social calendars of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Morseu went on to coach and coordinate the first, all-Indigenous basketball team to tour internationally in 1988. From 2000 to 2004, Morseu coached Kuiyam Pride, which, based in Cairns, is the first and only all-Indigenous team to play in an Australian mainstream national league.

Barbara Paulson Curator, ATSIP


1 Nicholson, The Australian Basketballer, September 1983.