John Moriarty Football’s (JMF) Indigenous Football Week 2021 (IFW21) is officially underway and shining a spotlight on women in Football.

The theme this year is gender equality and the power of football to unlock the potential of Indigenous girls and women.

IFW21 has also focused in on JMF’s Indigenous coaching team and their work towards gender equality.

Proud Wiradjuri woman and JMF Dubbo Community Coach, Tiffany Stanley, spoke to the National Indigenous Times about her role within the program.

She said she’s “apart of a team that delivers a range of JMF programs including, in-school curriculum, weekly skills programs, holiday clinics, friendly fixtures and one-on-one skill intensive programs”.

“I have been very involved in the development of our JMF Community Scholarship holders in Dubbo, encouraging school attendance, mentorship through tutoring sessions and encouraging participation at all JMF programs and events,” she said.

“I am also a key liaison for our Community Advisory Group, connecting with key stakeholders to inform them of JMF programs, events and initiatives.”

Stanley spoke on IFW21’s theme noting “gender equality in Football is so important”.

“Not every child has the best upbringing, especially some young Indigenous girls,” she said.

“But being a part of a team is what gives you that sense of belonging.”

“You start to feel and see a positive change in yourself and build respectful relationships between yourself and others.”

Stanley told the National Indigenous Times that being a female in a regional town has barriers for Football pathways, but JMF helps break some of them down.

“The biggest gap for girls playing football in regional areas like Dubbo is opportunities for teenage girls, there is very limited playing opportunities for these girls,” she said.

“The other barrier for Indigenous girls is the cost involved in playing sport and the distances needed to travel to get to games.

“JMF does help bridge this gap, but more than that, it also encourages school attendance, builds resilience and wellbeing.”

“Indigenous Football Week is about the power of football to create change for good,” Co-Founder and Co-Chair of JMF and the first Indigenous footballer selected for Australia, John Moriarty AM, said.

“It is a chance to bring the football community together to support inclusion, cultural recognition and diversity.

“Women’s and girl’s football is the fastest growing area of Australian football and we are certainly seeing this in JMF. JMF is committed to taking a leadership role on gender equality.

“Currently, 50 per cent of our participants are girls, 40 per cent of our coaches are female, 75 per cent of our board are women, and we are always striving for improvement and creating best practice for gender and social equality in football.”

By Teisha Cloos