Westfield Matildas boss to view Indigenous football talent in remote NT

Staff writerJul 9, 2018

Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic will become Australia’s first national football coach to take a look at remote region Indigenous talent when he visits the tiny town of Borroloola, NT on 11-12 July 2018.

He will run a two-day coaching clinic under the Outback sun 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 wellbeing 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 offer the X factor to Australian football. AFL and NRL have long backed the value of Indigenous talent with sustained representation of around 15% and 12% respectively.

Football is playing catch up with a little over 1% of the Hyundai A-League or Westfield W-League coming from the ranks of First Australians

16-year-old Borroloola local and 2018 Westfield Young Matildas debutant 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 3000kms 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.

Alen Stajcic is looking forward to his first visit to a remote Aboriginal community.

He said “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. 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 Craig Foster said “It is important for Aboriginal Australians to have the chance to show the world what they can achieve, but also important for the nation. 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.”