Moriarty: More indigenous talent to be unearthed

John Moriarty says that Shadeene Evans is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of football talent there is in the two remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, where his football program is based.

Three years ago, John Moriarty - the first indigenous footballer to be selected for the Socceroos - helped set up John Moriarty Football (JMF) along with his wife Ros and son James in the communities of Borroloola and the Robinson River.

During the inaugural Indigenous football week, JMF was celebrated for its work in providing support, training and pathways for Indigenous footballers aged 6 to 16.

In July last year JMF member 14-year-old Shadeene ‘Shay’ Evans impressed Matildas coach Alen Stajcic at the Under 17 National titles enough to prompt a move to Sydney. 

Shay now attends Westfield Sports High School and the NSW Institute of Sport elite football program and Moriarty says there are more indigenous footballers in JMF ready to make their mark.

“Shay is the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

“There is so much talent and depth in our program’s young athletes. In fact, 30% of our 12 -14 year olds have been selected for representative teams. It won’t be long before more of our athletes take the next step.”

Moriarty says it has been a big move for Shay, who comes Borroloola a very remote community with only 60 kids in the whole school.

But the transition to living in Sydney has been made much easier by Shay’s host family, the Johns.

“Shay misses her family and friends,” he says.

“But she loves the educational opportunities at Westfield Sports High School. English is her favorite subject, and she excels in Art. She trains eight times per week at the NSW Institute of Sport under some of the best coaches in Australia. Her future in professional football is bright.”

Moriarty says the funds raised by the events during the inaugural Indigenous football week will help JMF expand their reach to other areas besides Borroloola and the Robinson River in the hope to support and nurture more young Indigenous athletes like Shay.

“This money will assist us take our model to many more communities,” he said.

“Our goal is to deliver the program in nine remote communities by 2018. We have built the model, and it is now ready, funding permitting, to offer opportunities of football, education and healthier lifestyles to more than 2000 children.

“Awareness of the past week is about seeing the potential Indigenous players can bring to Australian football, and spreading the word about the change football can bring to some of Australia’s most vulnerable children.”

“Funds raised exceeded our expectations, through the generosity of the Socceroos who donated their match fees, and wonderful contributions from FFA, corporate Australia and the public. We want to thank everyone across Australia who donated, including players, a number of prominent Australian CEOs, and broadcasters SBS and FOX Sports who helped to raise awareness of our initiative.”

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  • Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.