'A reminder of the importance football has in our society': Mel Andreatta reflects on experiences in the NT

“It was a good reminder of the importance that football has in our society and the impact it can have on the lives of people.”

Last week, Westfield Matildas Assistant Coach Mel Andreatta joined a group of FFA National Team staff who experienced first-hand the powerful role football plays in remote Northern Territory communities.

Gens of Aussies - MAT - Thin Banner.

In collaboration with John Moriarty Football (JMF), Andreatta visited a number of rural schools in Alice Springs, Ti-Tree, Tennant Creek, and Alekarenge. 

It was there she discovered how football truly influences the Australia as a whole.

“It was an excellent experience all-round,” reflected Andreatta.

Mel Andreatta during her recent time in the Northern Territory

“Each time we visited a new town or school the kids would start playing and they just didn’t want to stop.

“It was inspiring to see the commitment of the teachers in those areas and the coaching staff at JMF who bring football to these really remote areas that have very little.

We saw what sport and our game in particular can do for remote and Indigenous Australians and the happiness, excitement, energy and joy that it brings."

Flying across from the Sunshine State, Andreatta was confronted by the intense heat and blanket of red dust that cloaks the Top End.

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But that did not seem to faze the locals, who brave this challenging environment daily to play the game they love.

“These kids who are living in some of the remotest of areas and harshest of conditions are coming to school, taking their education seriously and are excited by football,” said Andreatta.

“It’s just humbling to see the joy and happiness on their faces when they were playing.

FFA in NT - Andreatta

“It was a good reminder of the importance that football has in our society and the impact it can have on the lives of people.”

FFA’s XI Principles for the future of Australian football enforces that growing opportunities for Indigenous Australians to participate in the game is a key step towards opening up football to all. 

The experiences of Andreatta and her colleagues up North brought this desire to the forefront.

“It is incredibly important,” she reflected, “our First Australians need to be brought in and part of everything that we do.

“To do this properly and meaningfully takes conversation and a real commitment to learning about our First Nations peoples’ culture and what they would like to see done with football in their communities.

“We have to keep working together to make the game better and make the game reach more people because its impact is unquestionable.”

FFA in NT rural communities