Football Australia has announced the establishment of the National Indigenous Advisory Group (NIAG).

The group will be made up of nine First Nations community members from a range of areas, including professional and grassroots football, media, academia, and government.

The members include Kenny Bedford, Frank Farina OAM, Selina Holtze, Narelda Jacobs, Professor John Maynard, Doctor Karen Menzies, Jade North, Tanya Oxtoby and Kyah Simon.

Whadjuk Noongar Journalist Narelda Jacobs, told the National Indigenous Times that she “wants to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture are centred in the frame both on and off the pitch.”

“NIAG has brought together some of the country’s greatest minds and football veterans aswell as current players to bring fresh ideas on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement in the sport.

“If the round ball was given to Indigenous children generations ago, we’d be cheering on our own Cristiano Ronaldo by now.”

“And Lydia Williams, Kyah Simon, Gema Simon, Jada Whyman and Allira Toby would have more company on the national and international stage.”

Jacobs said that we can “expect to feel a sense of pride and empowerment with the initiatives to come”.

“NIAG will help bring the world game to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the world game.”

Narelda Jacobs. Photo Supplied Twitter.

Some of the main focuses for NIAG will be supporting the cultural safety for football’s Indigenous participants, evaluation and advice on football pathways and programs and guidance on future strategic partnerships and employment strategies.

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said that the establishment of NIAG is another step in Football Australia’s journey to connect authentically with football’s Indigenous heritage and future.

“The National Indigenous Advisory Group will bring to the forefront the voices, lived experience and rich knowledge that can only come from First Nations people,” said Johnson.

“Our Indigenous heritage is a critical component of Australian football’s identity and story.

“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.”

Biripi man Jade North will co-chair the Advisory Group alongside Football Australia’s Head of Women’s Football Sarah Walsh.

By Teisha Cloos