A new Indigenous academy of excellence focussed on recruiting and nurturing future football stars from across the continent was launched in south western Sydney this week.
The Charles Perkins Soccer Academy is being touted as the biggest initiative for First Nations soccer players in Australia and will bring existing programs from around Australia under the one umbrella.
Launched on Thursday, the academy has been driven by the newest franchise to the A-League, Macarthur FC, who will join the competition proper in the 2020-21 season, and has been named after legendary Aboriginal rights activist and champion footballer in his own right, Dr Charles Perkins.
Worimi man and football tragic, Professor John Maynard, described the launch of the academy as a "groundbreaking moment" in Australian sport.
Mr Maynard, who chairs the new club's Indigenous advisory council, will also sit on the board of the academy alongside five other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.
he said he was excited by the potential of the academy because there was "so much untapped talent" within First Nations communities throughout Australia.
“What Aboriginal players can bring to the game, as they do with Rugby League and AFL, is the ex-factor," he said.
“We want to encourage the same thing here, bringing the skill level that they have into this game."
The only Indigenous man to coach the Australian national team, Frank Farina OAM, has been named as the Director of Football for the academy.
Mr Farina said he will initially work on constructing the framework of the academy structure, identifying locations for satellite centres across the country and building strategic alliances with partners.
“The Charles Perkins Academy project is one that can create real impact in people’s lives and for that reason I’m excited to be involved,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to working with FFA, the state federations and all football’s stakeholder groups to form meaningful partnerships that will make a difference.
“From a football perspective, we know there will be hidden gems out there, and we can’t wait to find them.”
High performance teams and camps will be hosted at Macarthur FC’s soon to be constructed centre of excellence in Campbelltown, and other programs will be rolled out nationally.