• Tim Cahill poses with young Australian Indigenous footballers from the John Moriarty Football team in 2014. (Getty Images )Source: Getty Images
The 2020 Indigenous Football Week (IFW20) will begin this coming Monday, November 9 until Sunday, November 15 and will feature a program of events that will engage Indigenous communities and players across Australia.
SBS The World Game
6 Nov 2020 - 2:04 PM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2020 - 2:04 PM

Organisers say IFW20 will highlight how football has the power to create pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education, and community engagement for Indigenous players.

The football community has come together to support the John Moriarty Football (JMF) initiative.

JMF has partnered with Football Federation Australia (FFA), Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), SBS, NITV, and FOX Sports, to celebrate events held in JMF communities in NT, NSW and Queensland.

Events will include in-school workshops, including sessions with sports psychologist Dr. Noel Blundell and Compeat Nutrition, as well as football clinics and community gala days.  

John Moriarty, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of JMF and the first Indigenous footballer selected for Australia, said, “Indigenous Football Week (IFW) celebrates our Indigenous football heroes already kicking goals and paves the way for the new stars of the future. The week is all about the power of football to create change for good.” 

“IFW brings the football community together to support inclusion, cultural recognition and diversity. Together we can create pathways that led to positive change and close the gap. 

“The theme for Indigenous Football Week 2020 is “Pathways” and will focus on the pathways JMF is creating and how it is changing the game.

"This year we are very proud to launch our new Community Scholarships Pathways Program. This game-changing program provides football scholarships to selected athletes within their regional communities,” Moriarty added.  

JMF Scholarships & Pathways Manager, Michael MacDougall said, “We are currently providing Community Scholarships to five children from our JMF program and are already seeing positive impacts to the scholars, their families and communities.”  

The new Community Scholarships Pathways Program provides selected scholars with educational support in the form of tutoring and mentoring, equipment and stationery for school, as well as placement with a local JMF-partnered football club, football equipment and travel support. 

As part of JMF’s broader Scholarships & Pathways initiative, this new program is developing a grassroots pipeline of football talent and also fostering positive change, including improved school attendance and more resilient, healthier outcomes for players, their families and communities.  

JMF Dubbo Community Coach and Wiradjuri woman, Tiffany Stanley, said, “It’s been great to see how well the scholarship holders are doing to achieve their goals.

"A major part of the JMF Scholarships & Pathways Program is the care team. The care team helps the students with their arrangements and continued connection with their clubs, schools, community and culture, as well as making sure they have plenty of time for their families.” 

The JMF Scholarships & Pathways Program currently assists four scholars to live in Sydney and attend some of Australia’s top schools. Each scholar has been selected to play for NSW National Premier League teams. 

It’s best-known scholar and ambassador, Shadeene Evans, has played two seasons for Sydney FC in the W-League.

In 2018 she was selected as a Young Matilda, was named vice-captain in October 2019 and in March 2020 was named Role Model of the Year by FFA. 

IFW and JMF are delivered by Moriarty Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that delivers successful program outcomes through resilient local engagement.

Its underpinning framework is based on improved wellbeing and strong protective relationships for the staff, children, families and communities it works with.

JMF’s sister program is Indi Kindi, an early learning program for the under-fives and their families to improve the global readiness of Aboriginal children entering pre-school and school. 

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill said the PFA remained a proud partner of JMF and Indigenous Football Week. 

“Indigenous footballers have made a long and storied contribution to our professional game; from the pioneering efforts of John Moriarty, Charlie Perkins and Harry Williams to the modern-day heroics of Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon, our game has proudly celebrated their incredible achievements.” 

“Through our ongoing partnership with JMF, our focus over the past four years has centred on supporting the next generation of emerging Indigenous stars, ensuring they enjoy the positive outcomes of participating within football, while having access to pathways that can propel them from grassroots to the professional level.” 

“JMF’s efforts in building structured player pathways provides further opportunities for Indigenous footballers to experience our beautiful game and helps to enrich our sport at all levels,” Gill added.  

Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, said, “FFA has been a proud long term supporter of John Moriarty Football and are delighted to once again be involved in the JMF Indigenous Football Week.” 

“FFA is committed to the promotion and development of football for Indigenous Australians across the country.

"In our recently finalised XI Principles for the future of Australian football, we recognise that our Indigenous heritage must be a critical component of Australian football’s identity and ongoing football story. 

"We also emphasise the need for clearer pathways and to create more opportunities for Indigenous players, coaches and administrators to play and be involved in football.”  

“Accordingly, this week represents a wonderful celebration of the positive work done throughout the year in creating awareness and opportunities for indigenous footballers, coaches and administrators across the country,” Johnson said.