• Shadeene Evans with John Moriarty (John Moriarty Football)Source: John Moriarty Football
As we celebrate Australia’s inaugural Indigenous week, we take a look Shadeene Evans, the next-gen breakthrough talent, and product of John Moriarty Football.
Sarah Leach

29 Mar 2016 - 1:54 PM  UPDATED 29 Mar 2016 - 1:57 PM

Gifted 14 year-old football player, Shadeene Evans is on her way to represent the Matildas after being talent scouted by national coach Alen Stajcic in 2015.

Her goal is to wear the national colours, and to follow in the footsteps of her role models, fellow player Kyah Simon and The Matildas latest debutant, 15-year-old Ellie Carpenter.

“I would like to be the best soccer player I could be and would love to play one day for the Matildas,” Evans said.

“Kyah Simon is someone I respect and look up to and I would like to play like she does one day,” Evans said. “She is a great role model for young Indigenous people,” she added.

Shadeene’s Pathway

What’s special about Evans is that she’s from the remote Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory, from a town called Borroloola. And like most kids in her town, she loved to play football after school, playing with no boots or shoes. It was fun.

“When we play at home we play barefoot with no boots. We continue to play even when it gets up to 40 degrees,” Evans said.

Evans’ life and football career significantly changed last year when national selectors at the 2015 U/17’s Girls NTC Challenge at the AIS Canberra scouted her. Since, she has begun an inspiring journey from the Northern Territory to Sydney.

It was in Canberra that selectors, including Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, took notice of Shay’s talent and ability, enrolling her at the acclaimed Westfield Sports High School and the New South Wales Institute of Sport Girls’ Football program, a pathway to Young Matildas and Matildas representation.

“I was very excited for Alen Stagic to think I played soccer well but he wanted me to come to Sydney to train and that was scary because I was only 13 years-old,” Evans said.

Evans is now well and truly getting used to being a city slicker, but naturally it’s been a tough adjustment to not only Sydney, but also the new training regime.

“It’s a very different lifestyle to Borroloola, it’s a big city and a big town. Borroloola is a very remote community, there’s only 60 kids in the whole school.

“I’m enjoying living in Sydney and I love going to Westfield Sports High School to learn, and train for soccer. English is my favorite subject,”

“It’s been a big move, I think I have settled in now but it has taken a little bit of time. I miss home, but I get to go back on school holidays,” Evans said.

Evans is now training not only at school, but also eight times each week at the NSW Institute of Sport, wearing boots!

“I love the high intensity training that comes with soccer, I also like competing against other teams and meeting new friends. I am fortunate to have been coached by good coaches, my technique is getting better,” Evans said. 

John Moriarty Football

John Moriarty was the first Indigenous player to represent Australia and his legacy is coming full-circle with the player pathway it has given Shay Evans.

Moriarty’s own entry into the sport in the 1950’s says much about the opportunities John Moriarty Football seeks to create for young players who are amongst Australia’s most athletically gifted, and yet most vulnerable youth.

Like, Evans, Moriarty played barefoot. At age 15, Moriarty played a friendly match barefoot in which his team trounced the South Australian state side. Then, the South Australian State coach wouldn’t take no for an answer for Moriarty to play soccer, and bought him a pair of boots.

In 2012 Evans joined John Moriarty Football (JMF), which delivers a tailored football program for young Indigenous athletes in the far remote NT communities of Borroloola and Robinson River. JMF message is twofold:

To create life-changing opportunities for young Indigenous players and,

Open pathways for them to make their mark on Australian football.

“John Moriarty Football has been instrumental in supporting me to fulfill my dreams to some day play for Australia. They have given me the opportunity to play soccer and be coached in Sydney,” Evans said.

Evans has such, become the program’s first elite athlete on the pathway to success. She is proud of who she is and where she’s come from.

“My heritage means so much to me, my family, my community and my culture will always be a part of me. I would like to make my family proud of what I’m doing and hopefully this can in some way help my community.

“It would be a dream to represent Australia and I would like to be someone others from Borroloola can look up to and know they can achieve their dreams,” Evans said.

Evans, the eldest of four has one brother and two sisters and keeps in regular contact with her family back home.

“They say keep going, they’re very proud of me and ant me to keep going with my football,” Evans said.

Role Models

As the Matildas romped home an entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics in March this year, Evans was one girl that was inspired by our national women’s team.

At Westfield Sports High, she gets to rub shoulders with 15-year-old Ellie Carpenter who starred in Japan, at the Olympic qualifiers.

“She’s like truly amazing, as a 15-year-old playing for the Matildas,” Evans said. “I met her, she’s become a friend,” she added.

And Kyah?

“I follow her and look what she’s doing, maybe I want to be like her one day”. 

More on John Moriarty Football and Indigenous Football Week

  • SBS Zela readers can help change the lives of young Indigenous footballers and the future of Indigenous football in Australia by making a tax-deductible donation today to John Moriarty Football at www.jmf.org.au
  • Or, upload and share a photo of your feet, barefoot, with a ball, or juggling or playing during Indigenous Football Week to Facebook and Instagram using the hashtags #BarefootJMF and #GameChanger. SMS donations can be made by texting GOAL to 0455 021 021.
  • Indigenous Football Week highlights the achievements of Indigenous players past and present and the next generation of incredible talent who are set to change the face of the game.
  • The inaugural Indigenous Football Week (29 March-3 April) is a critical fundraising initiative for John Moriarty Football (JMF) and is proudly supported by Football Federation Australia, FOX Sports and SBS.
  • JMF creates life-changing opportunities for young Indigenous football players, opening pathways for them to make their mark on Australian football by improving school attendance, health and livelihoods for Indigenous kids, their families and communities in remote parts of Australia.
  • JMF concurrently employs and develops local coaches to support families and communities, delivering more than 800 training sessions and games per year, within a program that includes nutrition, mentoring and wellbeing, to three hundred 2-16 year olds in two remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.
  • Indigenous Football Week aims to raise $100,000 for JMF and its work toimprove education and life outcomes for young Indigenous footballers and their families, ensuring Indigenous football succeeds in Australia.
  • Indigenous football is a powerful agent of change and an emerging source of exceptional Australian football talent.