Former Socceroos defender Jade North says Football Australia’s establishment of a National Indigenous Advisory Group will allow First Nations people’s voices to be heard in shaping the sport’s domestic future.
North, a Biripi man who made 41 appearances for Australia, will co-chair a group that includes nine First Nations community members.
Others in the group are co-chair and ex-Matildas star Sarah Walsh, current Matilda Kyah Simon and former Socceroos coach Frank Farina.
“Football is all about unity, diversity and equity and I believe it is important that First Nations people’s voices are part of the football conversation,” North said.
“I have seen an increasing connection with First Nations people and football over the past few years. In some of the tournaments I have been to I see a lot of passion, I see a lot of skill, I see a lot of desire, and everyone is proud of their mob and where they are from.
“What I would love to see over the next couple of decades for our First Nations people is having a big representation of Indigenous people, in various roles, at all levels of the national teams and domestically.
“I would also love to see Indigenous culture deeply intertwined with Australian football, driving the respect and celebration of one of the oldest and continuing cultures in the world.”
The group will focus on supporting and retaining First Nations players, coaches, support staff and administrators, evaluating football pathways and programs that drive social outcomes, guiding strategic partnerships and employment strategies and developing FA’s reconciliation action plan.
FA chief executive James Johnson said the group would “bring to the forefront the voices, lived experience and rich knowledge that can only come from First Nations people”.
“Our Indigenous heritage is a critical component of Australian football’s identity and story,” Johnson said.
“To provide the opportunity for the next generation to continue in this tradition and to strengthen Indigenous participation at all levels of the game, we need to create stronger pathways and ensure we foster an environment that welcomes and embraces.
“The collective leadership of the group will play an integral role in guiding Football Australia as we take important steps towards becoming a leader in our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”