Charles Perkins Soccer Academy looks to reconciliation through football

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Charles Perkins Soccer Academy chairperson John Maynard has reaffirmed the Indigenous academy’s vision of contributing to reconciliation in Australia through football.

The academy is an initiative driven by A-League newcomers Macarthur FC to serve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players across Australia under one cohesive program.

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One such way is by hosting a national Indigenous Football Forum in March next year at Campbelltown and Mr Maynard said this would help bring people together.

“Indigenous football development has been fragmented for too long with very few outcomes for young Indigenous people,” he said.

“We want to address that through collaboration and cooperation throughout the football community, and with one voice.”

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The program is named after Dr Perkins who was from the Arrernte and Kalkadoon peoples and a prominent football player and coach.

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He trialled with English Premier League sides’ Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United before he turned to Australia to captain and coach Adelaide Croatia.

He was later appointed Australian Soccer Federation vice-president in 1987 and inducted into the FFA’s Football Hall of Fame for his contribution to the sport in 2000.

Outside of his footballing career, Dr Perkins was an Indigenous activist as one of the key members in the 1965 Freedom Ride across NSW, a campaigner for the 1967 Referendum and the first Indigenous Australian to graduate from the University of Sydney.

The academy’s board met for the first time last week in Sydney to discuss its progress in establishing an A-League Indigenous round and ways for clubs and supporters to connect with Indigenous people.

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The academy’s football director Frank Farina discussed his progress in building those relationships with existing programs and initiatives in Queensland and Victoria.

Mr Maynard said the board was excited for the opportunity to make a lasting change and contribution through the academy.

“We are starting our work from scratch, and will spend the coming months on consultation, research and strategy development ahead of our forum in March,” he said.

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