Football legend John Moriarty spoke at Tuesday’s launch of the first Indigenous Football Week, which aims to raise funds for a program to improve the lives of young Indigenous footballers while ensuring the success of Indigenous football in Australia.
He says the John Moriarty Foundation allows children to really “make the world their oyster” by giving them opportunities to move beyond otherwise isolated communities.
"The game will just do things that no other games can do," he says.
"It will elevate them to not only national level but to international level to play overseas and what better aspirations can you have than be represented overseas in one of the major clubs?"
Indigenous A-League star and Socceroo Jade North says it’s the start of a new era that will be recognised for generations to come.
“They’ll never be able to forget this moment," North says.
The Biripi man says it’s a week he’s been thinking of for years, and the launch is only a small step to a bigger, brighter future.
“It’s real. It’s going to continue and even with the Socceroos being able to donate their match fees to a wonderful cause as well just goes to show what characters they are and how they want to give back to the Indigenous community,” he says.
He believes football is a powerful message to help children overcome the suffering seen in communities.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive David Gallop says events which change people’s lives don’t happen often.
“But this is genuinely doing that, while also providing football opportunities.”
Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) chairman and former Socceroo Craig Foster says the week is a good start in an area of Australian football in need of more work and leadership.
He says in the end it’s all about changing football and giving children a chance in the game, it’s about giving them a chance in life.
“You’ve just seen the professional footballers of the world game, make a very significant contribution to our kids and that’s an extraordinary gesture which demonstrates the depth of feeling that we have towards our first Australians and the importance of them being involved in football,” Foster says.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to help change the lives of Indigenous Australians, it’s just that we believe football is the best platform to do that. And finally what we’re giving to the community kids is the opportunity to confront the world - not just Australia. We want to show their culture to the world.”
A team of 12 children aged 10-13 from Borroloola, NT, also attended the unveiling of Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia’s Indigenous Football Week.
On Monday the Socceroos pledged to give $90,000 from appearance fees to continue the work of the foundation.