FA forms Indigenous advisory group

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Former Socceroos defender Jade North will co-chair Football Australia's newly-formed National Indigenous Advisory Group as the sport attempts to improve its engagement with the Indigenous community.

North and Matildas forward Kyah Simon are among nine First Nations community members in the group, which draws on figures from professional and grassroots football, media, academia, and government.

The group will advise FA on cultural safety, retaining First Nations players, coaches, staff and administrators, football pathways, programs, strategic partnerships and employment strategies, and engaging with and developing its Reconciliation Action Plan.

Soccer is Australia's most popular participation sport but there has been a relative dearth of Indigenous players at the elite level, with the likes of North, Simon and Lydia Williams proving exceptions to the rule.

"Football is all about unity, diversity and equity and I believe it is important that First Nations people voices are part of the football conversation," Biripi man North said.

"I have seen an increasing connection with First Nations people and football over the past few years.

"In some of the tournaments I have been to I see a lot of passion, I see a lot of skill, I see a lot of desire, and everyone is proud of their mob and where they are from.

"What I would love to see over the next couple of decades for our First Nations people is having a big representation of Indigenous people, in various roles, at all levels of the national teams and domestically.

"I would also love to see Indigenous culture deeply intertwined with Australian football, driving the respect and celebration of one of the oldest and continuing culture in the world."

Other group members are former Socceroos coach Frank Farina, Chelsea WSL assistant Tanya Oxtoby, Selina Holtze, Reconciliation Australia board member Kenny Bedford, television presenter Narelda Jacobs and esteemed academics Professor John Maynard and Doctor Karen Menzies.

FA head of women's football Sarah Walsh is North's co-chair, while recently-appointed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement lead Courtney Hagen is the advisory group's secretariat.

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