Indigenous heroes plan a bright future

Two of the most decorated Indigenous footballers in Australian sporting history have joined key stakeholders at Football Federation Australia’s Indigenous Strategic Planning Forum in Sydney.

Two of the most decorated Indigenous footballers in Australian sporting history have joined key stakeholders at Football Federation Australia-s Indigenous Strategic Planning Forum in Sydney.

John Moriarty, the first ever Indigenous footballer to be selected to represent Australia, and Harry Williams, the first ever Indigenous player to compete at the FIFA World Cup (West Germany 1974), were among a select group including Warren Mundine, a former national President of the Australian Labor Party and an FFA Indigenous Ambassador, and Indigenous mentors Lachlan Wright (Captain Qantas Futsalroos), David Williams (Qantas Socceroos) and Kyah Simon (Westfield Matildas).

Also in attendance were Tanya Oxtoby (Captain Perth Glory Westfield W-League team), John Meers (CEO Football Federation Northern Territory), Greg Griffin (Chairman of Adelaide United FC), Andrew Penfold (Australian Indigenous Education Foundation) and leading football broadcasters Andy Harper and Craig Foster.

FFA CEO Ben Buckley made the opening address at the Indigenous Strategic Planning Forum.

“Indigenous footballers have made an incredible contribution to Australian sport and we are fortunate to have such fine ambassadors like John Moriarty and Harry Williams from days gone by and a very talented current group of indigenous players in our national teams,” said Ben Buckley.

“They have made it to the top, but the task of the forum was to examine the pathways and opportunities so that more talented indigenous players can make their mark in football. Developing a strategy is a crucial first step towards a bright future for indigenous football.”

The forum started with a report on two exciting scholarship programs involving Indigenous school aged children. The first being the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation where 25 boarding schools take in 300 Indigenous students each year across Australia and the other was a specific football program called the Footprints Football program for Indigenous kids in boarding schools in the Northern Territory.

This was followed by presentations and discussions relating to the vision for indigenous football, in particular the work that is being done by the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Australian Sports Commission, the NT Government, Football Federation Victoria, Football Northern Territory and FICA (Football in Central Australia).

The identification of key areas together with their associated strategies and activities were the agenda of day two and the areas for consideration in the Strategic Plan which will result from the forum are:

- Increasing participation in football in Indigenous communities - Using football as a vehicle for social development in Indigenous communities - Identifying and developing more talented Indigenous footballers

Game Development Manager, Matthew Bulkeley was delighted at the outcome of the two day forum.

“It was an extremely positive two days in which much progress was made in terms of developing the framework for an Indigenous Football Strategy.

“FFA will continue to work on the thoughts and ideas that were discussed with the view to develop a strategy for this critical area of the game,” said Bulkeley.

FFA also announced the imminent appointment of a full time Indigenous Football Development Officer, who will implement the strategies developed out of the forum.