Matildas’ head coach Alen Stajcic will become Australia’s first national football coach to take a look at remote regional Indigenous talent when he visits the tiny town of Borroloola in the Northern Territory for two days starting on July 11.
Stajcic will run a two-day coaching clinic for more than fifty Aboriginal children who train every week in the John Moriarty Football (JMF) program.
Named after Borroloola-born John Moriarty, the first Aboriginal footballer selected for Australia, JMF is in its seventh year of continuous delivery in remote Australia.
JMF brings together 6-16 year-old children through sport, promoting good health and well-being in some of the country’s most socially challenged regions.
The young players are supported to thrive and reach for their potential at local, national and international levels of the game.
JMF is a skills mastery program, adapted from the Football Federation Australia (FFA) national curriculum. School attendance and better nutrition are cornerstones of the program.
In a first for football, JMF’s FFA-licensed coach-mentors live in the community to develop local Aboriginal coaches.
With daily support from Sydney head office, the program is creating exceptional young footballers.
Their natural talent, flair and outstanding athleticism could potentially offer an X factor to Australian football.
AFL and NRL have long looked to tap into the value of Indigenous talent with sustained representation of around 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
Football is playing catchup with a little over one per cent of the A-League or W-League coming from the ranks of First Australians.
16-year-old Borroloola local and 2018 Young Matildas debutee Shadeene (Shay) Evans, is the first elite athlete to emerge from the John Moriarty Football program.
Shay was scouted at 13 years of age by Alen Stajcic, before moving 3000 kms to Sydney in 2015 on a JMF scholarship at Westfields Sports High School and the NSW Institute of Sport.
Four more young Borroloola and Robinson River athletes have since joined Shay in Sydney to chase their football and education dreams.
“An important part of our mission is allowing these children to become individuals with a clear vision and aspiration so they can see the future themselves” says John Moriarty.
Stajcic is looking forward to his first visit to a remote Aboriginal community.
"Being in a privileged position of coaching a National Team, I am extremely proud to have three Indigenous players representing our team and our country," he said.
"All fantastic ambassadors for football, our country and their culture, I am sure that they - with the help of the JMF - will encourage, embrace and promote even more young Indigenous children to enjoy our wonderful code."
JMF Board member and SBS chief football analyst Craig Foster stressed the importance of Stajcic's historic trip not only for the young players but for Australia's national teams.
“It is important for Aboriginal Australians to have the chance to show the world what they can achieve, but also important for the nation," Foster said.
"There is no better place to do so than in a Socceroos or Matildas shirt. This is not only about talent, it is about showcasing the beauty and wonder of Indigenous Australia through the global game.”