IFA launches to transform the lives of thousands of Indigenous children and communities through football  

[by Jo Gitsham]


 Image: supplied

Australia’s most successful and longest-running Indigenous football initiative, John Moriarty Football,  launched a new national body, Indigenous Football Australia to expand its Closing the Gap solution to reach thousands more Indigenous children across Australia. 


At an event hosted by Manly United Football Club, John Moriarty Football Co-Chairs Yanyuwa man John Moriarty AM, Australia’s first Indigenous footballer selected to play for Australia, and Ros Moriarty launched Indigenous Football Australia (IFA), which will expand John Moriarty Football (JMF) nationwide.


Also announced was a major partnership between UNICEF Australia and Moriarty Foundation, which has been two years in the making. The two organisations will cooperate through global exchange, knowledge sharing and community-driven advocacy. 


Attending the event were newly appointed IFA Council Members, human rights advocate, former Socceroo and Moriarty Foundation Board Member, Craig Foster, and Matilda and W-League player, Gumbaynggirr woman, Gema Simon. Other Council Members include Kate Gill and Beau Busch, joint Chief Executives of Professional Footballers Australia, and Worrimi man, academic and football author, Professor John Maynard.


Co-Founder and Co-Chair of JMF, John Moriarty, said, “IFA’s aim is to extend our platform even further to bring the benefits of John Moriarty Football to Indigenous children, families and communities right across Australia.”


“Our partnership with UNICEF Australia will amplify our impacts exponentially.”


JMF meets 11 of the 16 Closing the Gap targets and is proving to be life-changing for more than 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and boys aged 2 to 16 years of age.


The initiative is currently offered in 18 different communities in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales, at a cost of just $1,300 per child per year. 


IFA’s nationwide expansion will:


  • Provide over 3,600 Indigenous school-aged children each week with access to a transformational football and wellbeing program.

  • Increase JMF’s footprint from 18 to 36 remote and regional Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. 

  • Increase JMF’s partnerships with public schools in remote and regional Indigenous communities from 15 to 42 by providing in-curriculum football sessions.

  • Create new jobs for approximately 70 Indigenous people in remote and regional communities. 

  • Increase JMF’s capacity in addressing Closing the Gap targets. 


Mr Moriarty added, “Since launching in 2012 in Borroloola, a small community in remote Northern Territory, with 120 children JMF has kicked many goals. Over the past 18 months alone, our growth rate for participants is over 1,000 percent.”


“We’ve taken children from the bush to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, successfully expanded in three states, held five Indigenous Football Weeks, and launched the careers of several talented young footballers, including Young Matilda, Shadeene Evans.”


“Building on a decade of successful operations, JMF will reach all states to create more equitable access to the great game of football for grassroots and elite players, together with improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education and community engagement for Indigenous girls and boys, families and communities,” added Mr Moriarty. 


Supporting IFA is UNICEF Australia, as part of its new major partnership with Moriarty Foundation. The two share a focus on improving the lives of Aboriginal children, addressing some of the worst inequities in Australia, to facilitate Closing the Gap. 


UNICEF Australia Chief Executive Officer, Tony Stuart, said, “UNICEF Australia and the Moriarty Foundation are united in our belief that all Australian children should have an equal opportunity to realise their developmental potential. After almost 10 years of incredible success and sustainable social impact, now is the time to expand JMF throughout Australia, supported by Indigenous Football Australia and its Council Members.” 


Mr Moriarty added, “We are always asked by people all around Australia when JMF is coming to their community as they see the positive impact it has. We are very proud to be launching IFA and this nationwide expansion of JMF that will create more Indigenous-driven pathways and opportunities for our children, families and communities.” 


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