A new partnership between John Moriarty Football and Australian Blind Football will ensure blind and vision-impaired Aboriginal children in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged and remote communities will have the opportunity to participate in a game-changing football initiative.
According to Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, eye and vision problems are the most common long-term health conditions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
However, thanks to the John Moriarty Football (JMF) and Australian Blind Football (ABF) partnership blind and vision impaired (BVI) Aboriginal children will be able to participate in JMF’s transformational program through the use of audible balls.
JMF is Australia’s longest-running and most successful Indigenous football initiative for 2-18 year olds, JMF’s transformational skills program uses football for talent and positive change and has a track record of improving school attendance and achieving resilient, healthier outcomes for some of Australia’s most disadvantaged and remote Indigenous communities.
JMF Co-Founder and Co-Chair and the first Indigenous footballer to be selected to play for Australia, Yanyuwa man John Moriarty AM spoke on how this will address the barriers of football participation for Aboriginal girls and boys in remote and regional communities.
“This partnership with ABF is game-changing. Improving access to the game of football is paramount to us at JMF”, Moriarty said.
“Our program is designed to address the barriers of football participation for Aboriginal girls and boys in remote and regional communities.
“Whether they are caused by remoteness, lack of sporting facilities, economic disadvantage, and now, vision.
“We know that football has the power to unlock the potential of Indigenous children, just as it did for me.
Each week JMF delivers to over 2,000 Indigenous girls and boys aged 2 to 18 years in 19 remote and regional communities in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
A core purpose for ABF is to develop and support grassroots participation opportunities for people of all ages, genders, abilities and levels of vision loss to play football.
JMF Tennant Creek Community Coach Warumungu man Patrick Coleman spoke about how the audible footballs from ABF allowed two of his students to get involved within the JMF Program.
“At JMF Tennant Creek we have two visually impaired young fellas that participate in the program,” Coleman said.
“When we got the audible footballs from ABF they got really excited and happy.
“It was a really great feeling to see their reaction because not only could they practice their skills, they could also participate in a fun game with the rest of their peers and to me they looked more confident.
Blind football is played by athletes who are blind or vision impaired. Internationally the sport is governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA). There are two formats of the game, blind football (B1) and partially sighted/vision impaired futsal (B2/B3). Blind football (B1) is an internationally recognised sport played at the Paralympics.
ABF National Manager Dave Connolly said he was extremely excited to partner with JMF Football and potentially discover a future blind footballer that could take to the field at the Brisbane 2032 Paralympics.
“We are extremely excited to be partnering with John Moriarty Football, an organisation with a long-standing and successful community football program,” Conolly concluded.
“At ABF, we believe in football for all and by working with JMF staff we will be able to support their coaches in providing opportunities for children who are blind or partially sighted in Australia’s most remote Indigenous communities to play football.
“You never know, we might even discover a future blind footballer to take the field at the Brisbane 2032 Paralympics.