Socceroo Tim Cahill has helped launch National Indigenous Football Week 2017 at North Sydney Oval.
The FFA, PFA and John Moriarty from John Moriarty Football joined Jade North, JMF scholarship holders Shadeene Evans, Tremaine Simon, Brenda Hogan, Trishanne Miller and Lloyd Johnston in officially opening the week on Sunday.
IFW 2016 highlighted breakthrough talent of now 15-year-old Shadeene Evans who was John Moriarty’s Football’s first elite athlete. Evans moved to Sydney’s Westfields Sports High and the NSW Institute of Sport in 2015 after she was scouted by Matildas coach Alen Stajcic.
And inspired by Shay's efforts, four more young athletes from Shay’s home town of Borroloola have followed in her footsteps and moved to Sydney to attend top schools and clubs.
During Indigenous Football Week 2016, the Socceroo’s donated $90,000 of their match fees to JMF. Those funds made it possible for the four JMF youngsters to move from their homes in remote areas of the Northern Territory and train and go to school in Sydney.
Speaking at IFW17 launch Cahill lauded JMF’s work.
“What John Moriarty and his team have been able to achieve in such a short period of time is truly amazing,” Cahill said.
“I’m proud to be the patron for Indigenous Football Week 2017 and raise awareness for the great work that John Moriarty Football has been doing in creating opportunities in football and in life for Indigenous kids.
“I was lucky enough to meet some of the kids last year and I have no doubt that JMF will uncover future Socceroos and Matildas. The talent and passion for the game that these kids have is inspiring.
JMF is named after John Moriarty, the first Indigenous footballer to be chosen for the Socceroos.
He said the program was more than just about football.
“Our organisation works in very remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, employing and developing local coaches to support Indigenous families and the wider community,” he said.
“We deliver to a high percentage of the six to sixteen-year-old children in those communities, within a program that includes nutrition, mentoring and wellbeing.
“Indigenous Football Week 17 will again shine a spotlight on our work to support and nurture young Indigenous athletes with the talent and potential to succeed through football; whether at grassroots or the highest national and international levels of the game.”
FFA CEO David Gallop said Indigenous football was an emerging source of Australian football talent.
“Football Federation Australia is proud to continue our partnership with John Moriarty Football, which aims to nurture the next generation of breakthrough Indigenous talent,” he said.
“We are excited by these young players who are taking hold of the opportunities John Moriarty Football is creating, and can’t wait to see how they develop in the game.
“We are urging football fans across Australia to follow the stories of Indigenous Football Week and see how the future of Indigenous football is unfolding in Australia."
PFA Executive and Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams said the sport could transform the lives of Indigenous Australians.
“Indigenous Football Week is a chance to celebrate our culture and to inspire young Indigenous Australians to pursue a career in football,” said Williams.
"Football can be a game changer, John Moriarty Football is already showing how this is possible.”
Supporters can visit the John Moriarty Football website ( www.jmf.org.au ) to discover more, and can join IFW17 on social media using the hashtags #GameChanger and #JMFtalent .
Photo: David Maurice Smith/Oculi