Positivity and Perseverance – An Tong30 March 2023
We are the Champions!14 August 2023
Wominjeka to our NAIDOC week themed blog for this week. During this NAIDOC week, we wanted to reflect on the meaning of this culturally important event in the context of Footscray, what this week means to us, and what we can learn from it.
The world’s oldest living culture
Some 60,000 years ago, the land on which we meet and play upon today was cared for by the Wurundjeri Woi Worrung peoples. The meaning of this name is duplicitous, in that ‘wurun’ translates to Manna gum (the tree) and ‘djeri’ meaning a grub insect that was found on the tree, which brings us to the meaning of the name, the ‘Witchetty grub’ people.
Aboriginal people are masters of story-telling, it is the belief of our Wurundjeri ancestors that we are the creation of the great bird, Bunjil, that oversaw the creation of the land and all living things. This creation led to the formation of the Maribyrnong River which feeds the lands of our football club and Footscrays surrounds.
NAIDOC Week 2023 Poster
While our club hasn’t produced any Socceroos or Matildas yet (we are still a fledgling club!), we wanted to take pause and pay tribute to the brilliant Aboriginal players that have worn the Green and Gold of our Country.
Harry Williams (First Cap in 1974)
Williams was the first ever Indigenous Football player to represent Australia in international competition, taking to the field during the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. Coached by Rale Rasic (Footscray footballing legend), Harry played as a defender and valiantly fought to compete alongside football greats like Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller.
Harry Williams in action for Australia during the 1974 World Cup
Jade North (First Socceroos Aboriginal Captain in 2008)
When Harry Kewell came off at half-time v Singapore in their 2008 friendly game, Socceroos Coach Pim Verbeek handed the captains armband to North to see out the rest of the game. This was the first time that North had captained the Socceroos and became the first Aboriginal player to lead the national side. North had just won the 2008 A-League grand final with the Newcastle Jets, so this was a momentous occasion for both him and Australia.
Jade North representing Australia in Doha during 2008
Karen Menzies (First Female Aboriginal Matilda)
Karen Menzies learned that her mother was Aboriginal when she was 16 years old, having been homed with non-biological parents. She was moved to Newcastle from Sydney, and learned that she could begin playing in womens football team. Immediately she set about improving upon her skills she had developed playing at lunchtime with the boys at school, and within five years was playing for the Matildas as the first Aboriginal player.
Menzies as a child before one of her games
Sam Kerr (Current Matildas captain and all-time top goalscorer)
Kerr has gone from ‘sister of West Coast premiership midfielder Daniel Kerr’ to a bonfaide Australian superstar, captaining the Matildas and spearheading the attack of the country and one of the most winningest teams in Female football history, at Chelsea Football Club. Kerr’s rise to prominence has not been easy, having played with Australian youth teams since 15 years of age and suffering tough injuries at the beginning of her career. Kerr now regularly scores important and aesthetically pleasing goals at the highest level, and it will be incredibly exciting to see her lead Australia’s World Cup hopes later this month.
Kerr celebrates another fine Matildas goal in 2019
Australian football has been made richer by the outstanding contributions of the Aboriginal peoples listed here, and countless others. We here at the Footscray United Rangers Football Club pay homage to the Aboriginal pioneers in football and encourage all of our members to support the important and inspiring work of the John Moriarty Football Foundation, who provide opportunities for indigenous children between the ages of 2-18 to play and be involved in football.
You can learn more and support the John Moriarty Foundation by viewing their website here: Home – Moriarty Foundation