Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rural Communities Given a Sporting Chance

PERTH GLORY captain Tanya Oxtoby is set to help aspiring young soccer fans kick their own goals this month as part of Football Federation Australia's new Indigenous Football Development Program.

Throughout May, seven sports mentors will team up with Ms Oxtoby to visit rural communities such as Launceston, Shepparton, Alice Springs, Port Augusta, Dubbo and Townsville to give children an opportunity to develop their football skills.

Ms Oxtoby is thrilled to showcase the positive benefits football can bring to young people and hopes to inspire fellow Indigenous players to work towards their dreams.
“The FFA program is not only aimed at promoting the sport, but also getting numbers of Indigenous people playing football throughout Australia a lot higher- not only from the grass roots level but all the way up into the elite levels,” she said.
“We want to develop really good players and get them into A-league and W-League clubs.”

The first visit in May will encourage participation by children and educate the community about football. The second meeting later in June will help form a Perth team to participate in the annual Indigenous Football Festival held in Townsville in July.
“This will give people in communities who wouldn't usually have had the platform to go to Townsville, the chance to meet new friends, try new things and express themselves.”

Ms Oxtoby has come a long way from playing in her local soccer team coached by her father when she was eight, and hopes communities won't let the small percentages of professional Indigenous football players scare off the young hopefuls.
“The pathways are now so much more open than when I was starting off in my career,” she said.
“Players should use their heritage and remoteness as motivating factors, if you want it bad enough, chase after that dream because you never know what will happen.”

Other mentors participating in the development program include A-League players Travis Dodd from Adelaide United and Fred Agius from North Queensland Fury, former Socceroo Alistair Edwards, and football analyst Andy Harper.

No comments: