This book is the first to celebrate the stories of this group of Aboriginal mentors and leaders and present them in a fo
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Table of contents :
1.1 Step One—Asking
1.2 Step Two—Reading
1.3 Step Three—Reaching Out
1.4 Step Four—Responding
1.5 Step Five—Storywork
1.6 Step Six—Listening with More Than Ears
1.7 Step Seven—the Nuts and Bolts
2 Mr Scully—Boxing
3 Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM—Netball
4 Lloyd Walker—Rugby Union
5 Gary Ella—Rugby Union
6 Phil Duncan—Rugby League
7 Terry Hill—Football (Soccer)
8 Professor John Evans—Rugby Union/Athletics
9 Sharon Finnan-White OAM—Netball
10 Tom Evans—Rugby Union
11 Darren Allie—Basketball/AFL
12 Danny Allende—Rugby League
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball
14 Jeff Cook—Cricket
15 Jamie Pittman—Boxing
16 Jarred Hodges—Rugby Union
17 Rod Broad—Rugby League
18 Kirsty Smith—Netball
19 Mark Heiss—Touch Football
20 Gareth VonDuve—Football (Soccer)
21 Umima Austral—Netball
22 Shennae Neal—Netball
23 Bou Ovington—Rugby League
24 Courtney Ugle—AFL
About the Authors and Their Personal Acknowledgements
Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World Series Editors: Sarah Maddison · Sana Nakata
Demelza Marlin Nicholas Apoifis Andrew Bennie
Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture
Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World Volume 2
Series Editors Sarah Maddison, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia Sana Nakata, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia Editorial Board Miriam Jorgensen, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA Sheryl Lightfoot, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada Morgan Brigg, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia Yin Paradies, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia Jeff Denis, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada Bronwyn Fredericks, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia Libby Porter, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
The series, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World, brings together scholars interested in examining contemporary Indigenous affairs through questions of relationality. This is a unique approach that represents a deliberate move away from both settler-colonial studies, which examines historical and present impacts of settler states upon Indigenous peoples, and from postcolonial and decolonial scholarship, which is predominantly interested in how Indigenous peoples speak back to the settler state. Closely connected to, but with meaningful contrast to these approaches, the Indigenous-Settler Relations series focuses sharply upon questions about what informs, shapes and gives social, legal and political life to relations between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, both in Australia and globally. This is an important and timely endeavour. In Australia, relations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the state are at an impasse. In the wake of the government’s rejection of the Uluru Statement in 2017 there is no shared view on how Indigenous-settler relationships might be ‘reset’, or even if this is possible. The contemporary Indigenous affairs policy domain is characterised by confusion, frustration and disappointment that, despite a seemingly endless succession of policy regimes, efforts to ‘close the gap’ between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians have not resulted in progress. It is into this contested space that the Indigenous-Settler Relations series seeks to intervene with new, agenda-setting research. The series editors are based in a research unit in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne—the Indigenous Settler Relations Collaboration. The series will build on the work of the Collaboration in bringing together scholars and practitioners from around Australia, and around the world—particularly other Anglophone settler colonial societies such as Canada, the United States and New Zealand—whose work is concerned with Indigenous-settler relations across a range of disciplines. The multi-faceted approach to Indigenous-Settler Relations that deﬁnes the series seeks to capture how the question of relationality is already being asked by scholars across disciplines including political science, history, sociology, law, media, and cultural studies. Readers of this series will look to it for fresh perspectives and new ideas about how to transform Indigenous-settler relations in Australia and elsewhere. They will learn from the leading lights in an emerging ﬁeld who will connect their rich, multi-disciplinary scholarship to urgent social and political questions at the heart of Indigenous-Settler relations.
More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/16142
Demelza Marlin Nicholas Apoiﬁs Andrew Bennie •
Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture
Demelza Marlin University of Sydney Sydney, NSW, Australia
Nicholas Apoiﬁs University of New South Wales Sydney, NSW, Australia
Andrew Bennie Western Sydney University Penrith, NSW, Australia
ISSN 2524-5767 ISSN 2524-5775 (electronic) Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World ISBN 978-981-15-8480-0 ISBN 978-981-15-8481-7 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7 © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, speciﬁcally the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microﬁlms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a speciﬁc statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional afﬁliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. The registered company address is: 152 Beach Road, #21-01/04 Gateway East, Singapore 189721, Singapore
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are warned that this book contains the names of deceased persons
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first custodians of the lands on which this book was written. These are Stolen Lands and lands stolen from us and our ancestors. Custodianship is ongoing. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and those to come. Always was, always will be
I wear many hats as a professional. As an Australian Rugby League Commissioner and director of the NRL, a United Nations expert on the world’s Indigenous peoples’ rights, and an Aboriginal woman, I am acutely aware of the importance of Indigenous participation, pathways and representation in sport. Sport is the world’s great leveller. Like the great literature of this world from Naguib Mahfouz to Jose Saramago to Leo Tolstoy, crossing continents and cultures, great sporting contests remind us that we are uniﬁed and captured by the human condition. Sport plays an incontrovertible role in peacemaking and diplomacy both at the United Nations and at a states’ level. The world is replete with examples of how sport has challenged and uniﬁed human beings particularly when engaging with complex issues of race and racism. This book is an important contribution to the role of sport in navigating race and racism. In particular it contributes to the ongoing conversation in Australia about Indigenous Australians’ status or lack thereof in many sports. The book is particularly novel and pioneering because it deals with Indigenous sports coaches. In the NRL, for example, nurturing more Indigenous coaches is something we talk about lot in terms of further developing and encouraging but there’s little substantive publications speaking to this singular topic. This tremendously powerful collection of stories traverses the length and breadth of this ancient continent. It brings to life the stories of the men and women of First Nations peoples, the descendants of the ancient polities who once walked this land, from far North Queensland to Victoria to Perth. And it is vital reading, necessary reading, for those who have the great responsibility of running clubs and sporting competitions. It is important to pause and read and listen to what each and every contributor is saying because coaches are the engine room of the team. Coaches set the culture. The book cites the statistics that the National Rugby League (NRL) leads with eleven percent of Indigenous elite players, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples and the AFL has nine percent; this for an Indigenous population in Australia 3.3%. Yet when it comes to Indigenous coaches, few come to mind, Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga. Similarly the AFL. ix
As the book posits: where were all the Indigenous head coaches, responsible for the day-in, day-out management and training of teams today? Why weren’t the high numbers of Indigenous athletes translating into equally high numbers of coaches? The work of this book, and the authors, was to thoroughly understand this question and explore the reasons why. The methodology is innovative and pioneering. As an author of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and designer of the deliberative dialogue process that elicited the Statement, which has at its core the importance of listening and hearing, it is heartening to read how this research centres Indigenous voices. More disciplines should be conducting this kind of research: decentering the all-knowing scholar and elevating the experience of Indigenous peoples. This approach is not easy, not quick, can be unpredictable and it is humbling. But it elicits the most rich and nuanced stories. We learn in the book that academics view Indigenous Sports Studies in light of the broader socio-political context of Indigenous sport. And much of this literature, as described throughout the book, are rehearsed themes about race relations. The authors traverse literature that highlights the impact of racism upon elite Indigenous athletes from the assumption that sport is “emancipatory”, to popular representations of Indigenous sportspeople as “innately” talented and “naturally” suited to speed and flair; lazy descriptions that strip leadership and sporting intellect from Indigenous careers. As an aside, this makes Artie Beetson’s achievement in the early seventies as Captain of the Australian Rugby League Kangaroos, even more remarkable. The book is rich with the ways in which sport promulgates racialised representations of Indigenous athletes. I write this foreword not long after reading a devastating 2020 essay by sports journalist Russell Jackson on Aboriginal AFL player Robert Muir. It is a stark demonstration of all that this research exposes: “The Collingwood cheer squad, and a large proportion of the Victoria Park crowd, [were] baiting and abusing in the lowest manner that wayward but undoubtedly talented player Robert Muir. That was maddening: victimisation of the most despicable kind. Even when the match was over, the cheer squad did not give up. It stood outside the St Kilda players’ race abusing Muir. If only they could have seen themselves, like hyenas round a cornered prey. One wished for a ﬁrehose to be turned on them.”
Unbearable. The visceral display of racism toward Muir was shocking. That his story was erased by AFL and St Kilda unforgivable; the subtle ways racism operates. Racism and racist abuse was absorbed by him and other elite sports men and women and is something men carry with them for a lifetime. Yet this article shocked the Australian community. As if the same hadn’t occurred a few years ago to a young Aboriginal elite AFL sportsman called Adam. Racism is a shapeshifter. How easily we forget. For First Nations, sport is inextricably linked to our culture and to the right to self-determination. I have written many times on the emancipatory potential of rugby league for Aboriginal men during the tail end of the frontier period, the era of compulsory racial segregation or protection. To say it was emancipatory does not mean racism did not exist. But it was the very early stages of co-existence where
Aboriginal men played alongside the new arrivals. What then does the lack of Indigenous coaches say about Australia? The book speaks to covert forms of racism impeding opportunities for coaching. And furthermore, these forms of racism are structural because they form pillars of elite sporting institutions propping up decision-making and stereotypes and they are therefore difﬁcult to problematise and difﬁcult to dismantle. Juxtaposed against this is the endless contributions to community engagement and volunteering of time by Indigenous coaches. It really speaks to the cultural signiﬁcance of sport to our people. Elite sporting competitions may not understand the leadership potential of our people but our own communities do. And we invite it and soak this richness up. It is marvellous to read the accounts of how Indigenous coaches exercise their leadership skills and authority with our own people. Moreover they use their roles as the creators of culture in a team, to share and teach Aboriginal cultural values and practice to non-Indigenous people. There our people go, punching above our weight on reconciliation and social cohesion. The innovative methodology deployed by this research has parallels in the design of the Uluru constitutional dialogues and the results of those dialogues. In my work with the Referendum Council we centred the community’s voice so that each regional dialogue was led by our own people. We transcribed word for word the contributions and displayed for discussion and debate every single agreement and disagreement. It was important each and every participant felt heard. We also stumbled upon generational shifts, as the authors did, of the language older people and our elders liked and did not like and the language preferred by the youth. But at the end of the day, the 2017 national constitutional convention delivered a historic consensus of First Nations Voices because it listened and it heard. Listening is not enough. This is a truism the authors imbued their work with. And if the sporting codes of Australia were to play their role and to draw upon the depth of potential and experience within their sporting communities we may see more Indigenous people become sporting coaches in our major elite competitions. It’s ludicrous to think that we don’t have the talent or the skills. It’s more likely to be the structural barriers to career development, the reiﬁcation of the “natural talent” trope over the sporting intellect. With the proliferation of Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) among the elite sporting codes and teams we haven’t seen a requisite proliferation in Indigenous peoples in sports administration and management or coaching. Until we see those pioneers in Indigenous coaching crack the elite competition, in the absence of cogent evidence to the contrary, we will know it’s because of residual covert and overt structural barriers of discrimination. It is my hope that this tremendous publication on Aboriginal coaches ignites a robust national debate about Indigenous coaches and coaching. In this post-Black Lives Matter era, where sport is really playing a role in educating the community on racism, there is never a better time to have this conversation. And the exquisite way the authors of this book have traversed the sporting literature, locating this work in that literature and centering the voices of the Aboriginal interviewees, is a blueprint for the path that many sporting
organisations must now tread as they ask themselves the question: why are there no Indigenous senior administrators or Indigenous elite coaches in my sport? The answer will invite discomfort but that’s the foundation from which new pathways and new adventures are born. Prof. Megan Davis BA LLB GDLP LLM PHD UNSW Kensington Sydney, Australia United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Geneva, Switzerland
To the Aboriginal coaches who shared their time with us over the last few years, we hope we have done your stories justice. To the Coaching Unlimited Steering Committee—Marcia Ella-Duncan, Alison Tucker-Munro, Darren Allie, Prof. John Evans, Bou Ovington and Jarred Hodges, thank you for guiding us. We thank Harj Narulla, Henry Cornwell, Caitlin Biddolph, Dr. Bonnie Pang, James Perrett, Dr. Rhiannon White, Lachlan Preston, Phoebe Wang, Madelene Veber, and Beryl Friday who’ve dipped in and out of work on this project. We’re also grateful for the support provided by Tim Gordon and the team at Gilbert and Tobin Law Firm for the initial ﬁnancial contribution that made Coaching Unlimited a reality. To Prof. Sarah Maddison and Dr. Sana Nakata, thanks for providing a platform for us to share these stories more widely. And ﬁnally, to Prof. Megan Davis, it is an unreal privilege to see your words foreword this book. Given who you are and what you do, we are so grateful for your ongoing support.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1 Step One—Asking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Step Two—Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Step Three—Reaching Out . . . . . . . . . . . 1.4 Step Four—Responding . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.5 Step Five—Storywork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.6 Step Six—Listening with More Than Ears 1.7 Step Seven—the Nuts and Bolts . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . .
1 2 3 6 7 7 9 11 12
Mr Scully—Boxing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM—Netball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lloyd Walker—Rugby Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gary Ella—Rugby Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Phil Duncan—Rugby League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Terry Hill—Football (Soccer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Professor John Evans—Rugby Union/Athletics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sharon Finnan-White OAM—Netball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10 Tom Evans—Rugby Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11 Darren Allie—Basketball/AFL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12 Danny Allende—Rugby League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14 Jeff Cook—Cricket . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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15 Jamie Pittman—Boxing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16 Jarred Hodges—Rugby Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
17 Rod Broad—Rugby League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
18 Kirsty Smith—Netball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
19 Mark Heiss—Touch Football . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
20 Gareth VonDuve—Football (Soccer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
21 Umima Austral—Netball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
22 Shennae Neal—Netball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
23 Bou Ovington—Rugby League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 24 Courtney Ugle—AFL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Epilogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 About the Authors and Their Personal Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . 117
7s ABS AFL AIME AIS ANU APY ARC ARL ARU DCP EITAAP FFSA La Pa Lloydies NAIDOC NASCA NBA NBL NCIE NFL NRL NSO NSW NSWRL NT NTIS OAM PCYC
Sevens Rugby Union Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Football League Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience Australian Institute of Sport Australian National University Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytatjara Australian Research Council Australian Rugby League Australian Rugby Union Department of Child Protection Elite Indigenous Travel and Assistance Program Football Federation South Australia La Perouse Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy National Basketball Association National Basketball League National Centre of Indigenous Excellence National Football League National Rugby League National Sport Organisation New South Wales New South Wales Rugby League Northern Territory Northern Territory Institute of Sport Medal of the Order of Australia Police and Youth Citizens Club
PhD PYL QLD RAP RUFC SA SSO Swans UK UTS WA Wallaby/Wallabies WBA WBF WNBL
Doctor of Philosophy Premier Youth League Queensland Reconciliation Action Plan Rugby Union Football Club South Australia State Sport Organisation Sydney Swans United Kingdom University of Technology Sydney Western Australia Australian Rugby Union Team World Boxing Association World Boxing Federation Women’s National Basketball League
This book is a first. It is the very first book to be published with Indigenous1 sports coaches, in any language, in any settler-colonial context, anywhere. It is the first book to share the stories of a diverse group of Indigenous sportspeople—not only those working in elite or professional forms of sport, but also those who give their time freely to community clubs and teams. It offers insight into the experiences of Aboriginal coaches working in metropolitan, rural, regional and remote areas of Australia, and from all across the continent—from Kaanju country in the north of Queensland, down to Yuin country on the far south coast of New South Wales, across Gudjala and Nurrung countries in Victoria and South Australia, and over to Nyoongar country in the south west. It is a deeply moving and achingly human collection of stories sharing insights into a changing sporting landscape, and the role that Aboriginal coaches have played in shaping it. Although its finished form is a collection of diverse educational stories covering a range of topics and experiences, this book began its life with a much narrower focus— with the compelling, but ultimately limited question: where are all the professional Indigenous coaches?
term Indigenous is used here to refer to First Nations peoples in Australia and other settlercolonial contexts. We use this term to maintain consistency with terminology most commonly used in the research fields we are engaging with in this book. However, we acknowledge variances between First Nations populations within and across countries around the globe, and recognise that there is no official definition of ‘Indigenous’ peoples (United Nations, n.d.). When referring specifically to the coaches involved in this book, we use the term Aboriginal. Although ‘Aboriginal people’ is a colonial term and can viewed as insufficient to wholly capture the multiplicity and uniqueness of First Peoples’ cultures in Australia, it was the preferred term used by most of the coaches. Further, we have not used ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ because all of the coaches in this book identified as Aboriginal, from mainland Australia, rather than as Torres Strait Islanders. Where possible we use the language group or Country that the coach identifies with. Finally, when reviewing academic literature we have only used ‘Indigenous’ when the author has used the term to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_1
1.1 Step One—Asking Like so many people in this country, when we started the research for this book in 2014 we were already familiar with the impressive achievements of Indigenous athletes like Eddie Gilbert, Lionel Rose, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Arthur Beetson, Charles Perkins, Cathy Freeman, Nova Peris, Michael Long and Adam Goodes. We also knew that large, corporate-sponsored sporting organisations like the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) could boast equally impressive statistics about the numbers of Indigenous athletes in their first-grade and representative sides. When we started the research for this book, Indigenous sportsmen made up 9% of first-grade AFL players and 11% of NRL players (AFL 2014; ARLRAP 2014). That’s very high when you consider that people identifying as Indigenous only made up 3.3% of the total population (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2016). And yet, it was hard to bring to mind many Indigenous coaches coaching at that level. Sure, the NRL could point to former-players Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga (South Sea Islander) as State of Origin and Australian National team coaches. We knew that Arthur Beetson had also been one of the first Aboriginal people to captain and coach a first-grade rugby league team. The AFL (then known as the Victorian Football League, or VFL) could point back to Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer and Barry Cable as notable Indigenous coaches. But where were all the Indigenous head coaches, responsible for the day-in, day-out management and training of professional teams today? We decided to do some investigating. First we looked into the stats. Government statistics from that time showed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occupied only 173 of the 21,333 full-time coaching roles across Australia—around 0.8% of all coaches (ABS 2012). Why weren’t the high numbers of Indigenous athletes translating into equally high numbers of coaches? We looked into pathways and programs and found almost nothing. Then we looked into the academic literature, hoping to find some explanation for this absence. Nothing again. We systemically reviewed more than 40 years of academic research on Indigeneity and sport, looking at all levels of sport, in all settler-colonial contexts and found no books about Indigenous sports coaches (Bennie et al. 2017). To explore research published in other languages and colonial contexts, we connected with Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese and French speakers. Still nothing. In fact, our efforts uncovered only eight academic articles, world-wide, and none of these had an exclusive focus on Indigenous coaches (Bennie et al. 2017). And yet, although the stories of Indigenous coaches did not feature widely within the academic literature, researchers in the field of Indigenous Sports Studies had been asking important questions about the broader socio-political context of Indigenous sport. Academic authors were writing about the dynamics of race relations in professional sport, and how these dynamics shaped the experiences of Indigenous athletes. They had also been engaging in debates about the contribution sport can
1.1 Step One—Asking
make to ‘closing the gap’2 between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. And, researchers had been exploring the way that sport is experienced in Indigenous communities where Elders and senior community members take on informal coaching and mentoring roles. This research provided better social, political, and cultural context for our own questions about Indigenous coaches. So we set to work reviewing the literature, hoping to learn more.
1.2 Step Two—Reading Our reading began with early historical works by Broome (1980) and Tatz (1987, 1995). Although the field of Indigenous Sports Studies really took shape in the first decade of the 2000s (Hallinan and Judd 2014) these pioneering works made an important contribution to the field by exposing racism as an enduring problem within Australian sport. Broome and Tatz highlighted the incredible achievements of Aboriginal athletes in sports like boxing (Broome 1980), rugby league, AFL (then VFL) and semi-professional foot-racing/athletics (Tatz 1987). But they challenged the commonly held assumption that sport provided Aboriginal people with an escape from an oppressive, racist society. Acknowledging the different social realities of Aboriginal and settler Australian athletes, they argued that Aboriginal people had to overcome significant barriers to achieve success in sport (Tatz 1987, p. 58). Moreover, even during the height of their sporting careers Aboriginal sportspeople continued to experience racial abuse, discrimination, lack of access to specialist training and equipment, exploitative contracts, and manipulative and controlling (white) managers (Broome 1980, pp. 56–58; Tatz 1987, p. 18). This concern with race relations continued into the 1990s and 2000s as researchers began to explore various forms racism in sport (Hallinan and Judd 2012; Bamblett 2013). Tatz (1987, 1995), Tatz and Adair (2009), Worimi scholar Maynard (2012) and Hallinan and Pitjantjatjara scholar Judd (2009a) provided us with specific details about overtly discriminatory policies and practices that had excluded Aboriginal athletes from certain sports, teams, and clubs in the past. With other studies, we came to better understand that although overtly exclusionary policies had been removed from clubs and associations, Aboriginal athletes were still being negatively stereotyped by officials, recruiters, and commentators (Hallinan and Judd 2009b). And, they were being racially abused by fellow players and spectators (Godwell 2000; McNeill 2008; Maynard 2012; Gorman et al. 2015). We knew that high profile Aboriginal AFL players Michael Long and Gilbert McAdams had been instrumental in the development of a racial vilification rule in the AFL—the first of its kind in any sport in Australia (Gardiner 1999; Gorman et al. 2015, 1954–1955). But through the work of authors like Godwell (2000), Hallinan and Judd (2009b) and Stronach 2 Adopted
by the Australian Federal Government in 2008, the Closing the Gap framework aims to bring together State and Territory governments to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous Australians.
et al. (2014), we also saw more clearly how the introduction of anti-discrimination policies and recruitment targets within sporting organisations did not signal the end of racism within sport. Indeed, the work of Tatz (1987), Hallinan and Judd (2009b), Hallinan et al. (1999), Wiradjuri scholar Bamblett (2011, 2013), Adair and Stronach (2011), Tynan and Briggs (2013) and Stronach et al. (2014), re-focussed our attention on the discriminatory effects of discourse. They wrote about popular representations of Indigenous sportspeople as innately talented and naturally suited to speed and flair, rather than leadership and sporting intellect. And they showed how these racialised representations of Indigenous athletes were used to justify their differential treatment during and beyond their playing careers. Hallinan et al., for instance, connected stereotypes about Aboriginal athletes to their exclusion from playing positions that utilise leadership acumen and on-field strategic intelligence (Hallinan 1991; Hallinan et al. 1991; Hallinan and Judd 2009a). They argued that this pattern of exclusion, known as positional segregation, negatively impacted Aboriginal players’ access to leadership positions during their careers. Building on this, researchers argued that commonly held ideas about Indigenous people as ‘all brawn no brain’ restricted the employment and educational pathways offered to, or taken up by, Indigenous athletes upon retirement (Tynan and Briggs 2013; Stronach et al. 2014; Apoifis et al. 2018). This research gave us a plenty to think about. Both Hallinan and Judd (2009a, 2009b) and Stronach et al. (2014) suggested that racialised representations of Indigenous athletic talent were responsible for the view, held widely among AFL and NRL recruiters, that Indigenous people were ‘better suited to playing than coaching’ (Stronach et al. 2014, p. 53). Naturally, we wondered if these attitudes were pervasive across sporting codes and wanted to know if they could explain the low numbers of Indigenous people making the transition from elite athletic careers into coaching roles. However, we also noticed that much of this research was focussed on the experiences of Indigenous male athletes in professional sporting contexts (i.e., in the NRL and AFL). But our interests were broader than that. We wanted to get a better understanding of Indigeneity and sport, being played at club level and in Indigenous-only contexts. We also wondered about the experiences of females who had passed under the radar of Indigenous Sports Studies (Stronach et al. 2016). Then we read numerous studies about Aboriginal sport being played on Country in remote and western desert communities (McCoy 2008, 2012; Hearn Mackinnon and Campbell 2012; Judd and Butcher 2015). Researchers wrote about the cultural significance of sport, describing big games and inter-community carnivals as ‘modern day corroborees’ (Hearn Mackinnon and Campbell 2012, p. 967). They described the way that Elders and senior community members used sport to teach younger people about Aboriginal cultural values and community priorities (McCoy 2012, pp. 956–60). They showed how sport was engaged to explore community dynamics (Hearn Mackinnon and Campbell 2012, p. 971), and help younger people make the transition into adulthood (McCoy 2008, p. 22; 2012, p. 959). In regional and urban contexts, researchers were also writing about the social, cultural and gendered significance of sport (Kickett-Tucker 1997; Nelson 2009; Bamblett 2013; Browne-Yung et al. 2015; Stronach et al. 2016; Stronach et al. 2019).
1.2 Step Two—Reading
This research introduced some different ideas about Aboriginal sport, and confirmed others. Although conscious of the impact of stereotypes on younger Aboriginal people (Nelson 2009), and enduring problems with racism when Aboriginal teams play in mainstream competitions (Judd and Butcher 2015), these researchers showed how important sport can be for Aboriginal self-determination (Judd and Butcher 2015, p. 549), cultural continuity (Bamblett 2013, pp. 163–171) and cultural revival (Norman 2006). Gomeroi academic Norman’s history on the Koori Knockout reinforced our understanding of the close alignment between sport, politics and Aboriginal activism. Looking at the social, economic, and political history of the three-day knockout competition, Norman argued that this massive community-controlled and community-run event is an articulation of a specific kind of Aboriginal political activism that centres kinship, family relations, and cultural practice (Norman 2006, p. 170). This encouraged us to revisit literature within the sports-for-development field that explored the relationship between sporting programs, self-determination and community control (Rossi and Rynne 2014; Rossi 2015; Dalton et al. 2015; Evans et al. 2015; Rynne 2016). We found works that questioned the capacity of sports-for-development programs to deliver outcomes in health, education, and employment (Evans et al. 2015). We also engaged with research that highlighted problems with sports programs that were designed by non-Indigenous people, with little respect for community priorities (Sheppard et al. 2019, p. 7). However, from this work we also understood that when sports-for-development programs are designed and delivered with community input, they often do realise community priorities (Sheppard et al. 2019, pp. 12–13). These debates re-emphasised, for us, the importance of community control over sporting spaces. Engaging with this diverse scholarship gave us a lot to consider. It demonstrated the complexity of sport as a social, cultural, and political space. It reminded us how varied Aboriginal people’s experiences of sport could be in different settings and geographical contexts. Most importantly, our reading highlighted the need to engage with Aboriginal coaches, for although they featured briefly in a handful of studies (Stronach and Adair 2010; Thomson et al. 2010; McCoy 2012; Tynan and Briggs 2013; Hallinan 2015; Judd and Butcher 2015), their stories were largely absent from the academic literature. This meant that, after all our reading, we still didn’t really know why there was an over-representation of Indigenous players in professional sports like the AFL and NRL, but very few coaches in these sports. Anecdotally, and from personal experience, we knew that Aboriginal coaches were a visible presence in many sports at community and representative levels, but didn’t know much about their lived experiences. We wanted to learn more from the Aboriginal coaches who were coaching in community, representative, and high-performance settings.
1.3 Step Three—Reaching Out This began the second phase of our research and over the next three years we had conversations with over 75 Aboriginal coaches, coaching in a range of sports, at a variety of all levels and geographic localities (Bennie et al. 2019a, b). Relying on our networks and contacts (mainly in NSW), we reached out to as many people as we could, snowball sampling3 our way across the continent. While we were not able to meet with coaches from every community, or with as many female coaches as we had wanted to, our reach was extensive. We heard from high-performance coaches working in professional sports settings and from coaches working in community contexts at local clubs. We spoke to men and women, with younger coaches just starting out, and very senior coaches coming to the end of their coaching careers. Most of the coaches we heard from had experience coaching in Indigenous-specific carnivals and teams. All of them had experience coaching non-Indigenous athletes in mainstream clubs and contexts. Two things quickly became apparent in these conversations. Firstly, it was clear that in certain situations and in certain sports, covert forms of racism were impeding opportunities for Aboriginal coaches. Many spoke of feeling invisible, of feeling bypassed in favour of their non-Aboriginal counterparts, of people’s surprise that they had the capacity to manage a club or coach a team, and of cultural ceilings that they just couldn’t break through (Apoifis et al. 2018). But more importantly, listening to the experiences of Aboriginal coaches working at different levels and in different sports, we saw that there was a much bigger story to tell than the story we had been telling about discrimination and structural barriers in elite sporting institutions. Coaches spoke passionately about the tireless work they do in their own communities. They spoke about their leadership roles in and beyond sport, about the way they use their authority as coaches to teach their Aboriginal players about Aboriginal cultural values and practices, and how they use the coaching role to care for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal players within their communities. They spoke about creating opportunities to ‘gently culturally educate’ non-Aboriginal coaches and officials about the cultural specificities and social realities of the Aboriginal people they are coaching. They spoke about the different ways they challenge their colleagues’ implicit bias about Aboriginal people, how they advocate for younger generations of Aboriginal athletes, and how they centre their mob in everything they do. After reading through the transcripts of these recorded conversations we discussed what to do next. We had collected so many incredible stories. They had moved us, made us laugh, made us cry. They had taught us lessons we didn’t know we were looking to learn. In that discussion we made some important decisions. The first was to do something practical about what we had heard.
sampling (Atkinson and Flint 2001) is a recruitment method where existing contacts introduce and suggest other contacts.
1.4 Step Four—Responding
1.4 Step Four—Responding We were fortunate to hear from Phil Duncan, a senior Aboriginal coach and Gomeroi community leader with ancestral connections to the Country around Moree. Phil ended his interview with a challenge to us: I think these type of studies are important. And whether people like it or not, for me, you’ve taken the lead to do this study. Guess what? It’s no longer just about you and this study. It’s about the information you get from us and how you can use that information to best assist the next generation of Indigenous coaches coming through. I say that with all the sincereness and friendliness, it’s no longer about you. There’s an extension of you that’s got to take this a little bit further to try and help make a bit of a difference for the pathway for us.
Phil’s message was clear and we took it on board. We had been invited to get involved. We would leverage our own institutional privilege to contribute to change in this space. So we teamed up with some senior Aboriginal coaches and industry reps to organise a community forum,4 which led to the creation of Coaching Unlimited—a culturally-sensitive coach education and health promotion program to accredit more Aboriginal coaches.5 Our second decision was to find a way to share the coaches’ stories more widely. While we knew that the efforts of Aboriginal coaches were well-known within Aboriginal communities, we also knew that their insights and experiences hadn’t been shared widely with academic or general audiences. We felt strongly that their stories had something important to teach us all about the experiences of Indigenous people in sport today and about the changing nature of Indigenous and nonIndigenous relations in this country. However, we knew we did not want to write a conventional academic text which would only be read by a handful of academics. We wanted to present the experiences of these 23 Aboriginal coaches in a much more accessible form, and in a way that would allow readers to connect more directly to the experiences described. And so we set to work on this book.
1.5 Step Five—Storywork As you will see, this book is a collection of first-person narratives (stories) told in the voices of the coaches themselves. Each chapter offers the reflections of one coach, sharing their experiences in sport, in community, at work, and at home. Importantly, there is no commentary or analysis from us in the stories. After this introduction you will not hear from us again until the epilogue. This is an unconventional way of presenting experience in the social science disciplines we were trained in. In 4 Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Sport Coaching Forum, Barramatagal Country, Western Sydney University, 2016. https://logincms.westernsydney.edu.au/sports/home/news/featured_sto ries/aboriginal_and_torres_strait_islander_sports_coaching_forum/_nocache. 5 All proceeds from the sale of this book go to Coaching Unlimited: https://www.coachingunlimit edaustralia.com/.
social science research, experiences recorded in interview are usually presented in short quotes and arranged under categories and codes (or themes) derived from the theoretical frameworks used to analyse them. They are generally surrounded by analytic commentary designed to show the reader how to understand their meaning and broader significance (for examples in Indigenous Sports Studies see: Nelson 2009; Stronach et al. 2016; Bennie et al. 2019a). We don’t claim that this approach is wrong. Analysis has its legitimate sphere and produces useful forms of knowledge. Through the application of codes and categories drawn from theoretical frameworks, analysis can detect underlying meanings, identify patterns and theorise about causes. It can formulate coherent and generalisable theories about people and their experiences. Nonetheless, analytic approaches to first-hand experience are limited. Cut up, rearranged and often anonymised in short quotes, rich and intricately woven stories become disembodied fragments. Rather than fully formed people with complex experiences to share, the individuals represented by such quotes appear as mere ‘instances of the general categories presented in the report’ (Frank 2001, p. 359). Their unique character and voice are often obscured by the broader, more abstract claims being made through their words. We didn’t want readers to engage with these coaches as representatives of broader claims or abstract categories. We didn’t want our commentary and analysis to obscure their voice, their humanity, and their particular and nuanced ways of telling stories. We wanted readers to engage with this group of coaches as we had engaged with them, as whole beings rather than disembodied fragments of speech, as people rather than ‘research participants’. And so we decided to present the interview material in the spirit in which we had received it—as informal reflections and stories shared through conversation. This way of presenting experience as first-person narrative or story may not reflect social science conventions that privilege abstraction, objectivity, and distance between researcher and researched. However, as Eualeyai and Kamillaroi scholar Behrendt reminds us, storying (using story to describe experience) is both an ancient and potent form of communication. ‘Storytelling is our most instinctive and human form of communication, of teaching, of persuasion, of validation, of healing, of transformation’ (Behrendt 2019, p. 176). Stories provide context. They give background. They situate readers or listeners in the world evoked by the storyteller. They invite them to see and feel the storyteller’s world as the storyteller sees and feels it (Frank 2000, p. 361). In doing so, ‘storying experience’ introduces readers and listeners to the values, commitments and relationships of the storyteller (Frank 2000, p. 361). This is how story teaches. As Behrendt points out, stories illuminate ‘experiences that those who do not come from that background might not otherwise be exposed to’ (2019, p. 177). Speaking in detail about their work, families and communities, the coaches’ stories invite readers who may not have much knowledge about, or exposure to, the experiences of Aboriginal sportspeople, to see what life in the coaches’ communities actually feel like for them. In this way they can learn about values, relationships, and commitments that may not be their own. However, stories have yet another function. They can affirm what is known and shared by the storyteller and the people who are
1.5 Step Five—Storywork
listening (Bamblett 2013, pp. 1–10; Frank 2000, p. 355). For readers more familiar with the ways of knowing, doing, and being discussed by these coaches, these stories offer a chance to celebrate and reaffirm what is shared. Presenting these experiences in a story-form represents a profound shift away from the kinds of academic writing we have done together. And it has changed the way we position ourselves in relation to the knowledge shared with us by the 23 contributors to this book. Researchers are usually understood as people who produce new and generalisable knowledge. The knowledge we are presenting here is not new, nor is it our own. It belongs to specific times, places, peoples, communities, Countries. Our contribution has really been to listen, to understand, to collect and curate it.
1.6 Step Six—Listening with More Than Ears What does it mean to say we have edited or curated this collection of stories? And which methods, which protocols for engaging, have we used to do so? Listening to, and taking responsibility for, another person’s story involves a great deal of sensitivity, awareness, and restraint (Archibald et al. 2019, pp. 1–2). It is usually easier to judge and assess than it is to witness and stay open to what is being said. To hear properly and know how to respond to what has been said, we need to check the impulse to assess, and put aside the reflex to cast judgment. We need to practice empathy and listen with more than ears (Atkinson 2002). Developing this approach to our reading and editing we have been guided by two distinct, but resonant, traditions. One is a more ‘western’ phenomenological tradition, the other an Indigenous research methodology developed by Bundjalung researcher and educator, Judy Atkinson. The order in which we’ve presented these different traditions here doesn’t reflect their relative importance, only the order in which we were exposed to them. Although writing in very different traditions, Arthur Frank (sociology), Carl Rogers (psychotherapy), and Gaston Bachelard (phenomenology) are all interested in how we receive and understand other people’s words. They make a distinction between analytic (or conceptual) and empathic (or experiential) forms of understanding the words of others (see Bachelard 1964; Rogers 1989; Frank 1998, 2000, 2001). They argue that conceptual forms of understanding require us to step back from words, to create distance in order to evaluate and classify. Such scrutiny encourages us to move our attention away from words being spoken (or read) towards the underlying code we hope to find within them (Frank 2001; Bachelard 1964). It asks us to look behind or beyond the words to piece together their significance. Experiential or empathic understanding works differently. It tries to stay close to the experience described by the storyteller, to the warmth and fire of their words (Goldberg 1988). It seeks understanding through listening and by caring for words. It learns by repeating phrases, becoming familiar with, rather than interpreting them
(Bachelard 1964). It becomes intimate with rhythms and pauses of speech, the occasional intake of breath. Cultivating this form of understanding isn’t easy, especially for academics trained to ask questions and scrutinise answers. As Frank points out, deep listening requires the ‘moral imagination’ to listen ‘without the imposition of analytic categories’ (Frank 2001, p. 357). It requires a ‘moment-to-moment sensitivity’ to what is being said; an attunement to the universe of the storyteller (Rogers 1989, p. 15), a sensing of their inner world … ‘as if it were your own, while never forgetting that it is not’ (Rogers 1989, p. 15). This form of understanding involves listening ‘with more than ears’, hearing with the heart (Atkinson 2002, p. 19). It is supported by the disciplined practice of staying open to experiences that are not your own, to lives informed by different histories, values, relationships, and commitments (Frank 2001). Frank developed his methodology through a storytelling approach to health and healing, Bachelard through his consideration of the poetics of space, and Rogers articulated his form of empathic understanding as the basis for client-centred therapy. They are all relational thinkers working in western traditions of epistemology (ways of knowing) and ontology (ways of being). Nonetheless, the forms of listening and understanding advocated by these thinkers resonate with Indigenous research protocols and methodologies that emphasise non-judgemental listening, learning through listening, and the responsibility that comes from hearing stories (Archibald et al. 2019; Atkinson 2002; Martin and Mirraboopa 2003; Tuhiwai Smith 2012; MoretonRobinson 2013; Harrison and McLean 2017). Moreover, there is a particular synergy between their approach and Judy Atkinson’s use of the Ngangikurungkurr practice of dadirri—listening to one another (Atkinson 2002, p. 15). As she notes, dadirri is inner deep listening, quiet unobtrusive observation, nonjudgmental watching and listening that leads to ‘insight and recognition of the responsibility to act with fidelity in relationship to what has been heard, observed and learnt’ (Atkinson 2002, p. 18). Her explanation accords with the moral imagination that Frank argues is required to witness and bear responsibility for the stories of others. Both traditions have guided our reading, editing, and curating of the interview transcripts. That does not mean we have followed a strictly Indigenous research methodology (Martin and Mirraboopa 2003; Moreton-Robinson 2016). Indigenous concepts of reciprocity, non-judgemental listening, and working slowly with respect and kindness, that govern Indigenous research are often derived from cultural practices imbedded within specific communities, languages and relationships to Country (Tuhiwai Smith 2012; Moreton-Robinson 2016). For example, while dadirri emphasises quiet unobtrusive observation and non-judgmental listening, it also speaks of relationships. It locates the researcher within the reciprocal ties that govern correct relationship within community (Atkinson 2002). Although Demelza is a proud descendent of the Wiradjuri people of western NSW, with ancestral connections to the Bogan River, none of us have been reared in an Indigenous community context.6 We haven’t been directly exposed to the interconnected relationships between individuals, human and non-human kin, 6 The
other authors, Nick and Andrew, are non-Indigenous.
1.6 Step Six—Listening with More Than Ears
ancestors and Country that give rise to most Indigenous research methodologies (Moreton-Robinson 2016; Martin and Mirraboopa 2003). The nature of this project, which involved Aboriginal coaches from all over the continent, many who could only participate by phone conversation, meant that we were never embedded in a particular Aboriginal community. Although our relationships with coaches have been ongoing and collaborative in many respects, our meetings (both formal and informal) have not always been mediated through community Elders and protocols for on Country engagements. We talk on the phone or video conference to discuss aspects of the project’s aims and design. We chat at Coaching Unlimited workshops, through Steering Committee meetings, and when we bump into each other at work or at sporting events. Often, we meet in the academic institutions we are affiliated with. Through these relationships we have been influenced by multiple approaches to learning. Highlighting the influence of Indigenous research methodologies like dadirri on our reading practice, reflects our commitment to learning from Indigenous knowledges and research protocols. We believe that a combined relational approach to the editing and curating of these interviews, can do justice to the rich and complex stories 23 Aboriginal coaches have shared with us.
1.7 Step Seven—the Nuts and Bolts The stories in this book come from recorded conversations with Aboriginal coaches. When transcribed, these open and poignantly meandering conversations were typically 10,000 words in length. The chapters in this book are between 1500–2500 words. We’ve cut out a lot. We made decisions about what to include and exclude based on the themes that came through most vividly in the interview. We wanted the stories to convey a sense of who the person is, as well as what they do in their coaching work. For this reason, biographical details about work, life, and family sit alongside stories that more directly address coaching and sport. Voice was also important in this respect and we’ve tried to ensure that the coach’s particularities of speech (the conversational fillers they typically use—um, yeah, you know—and the emotional tone of their words) were present in the final draft. Sometimes this meant going back to the audiotapes to hear their voice again. Occasionally we rearranged the order in which stories were told to maintain a more conventional, literary sense of narrative and sequence. In this practice we were guided by works by Wiradjuri historian Bamblett (2013, p. 49) and by Gularabulu, the influential collaboration between Gularabulu Elder Paddy Roe and Muecke (1983), as well as first-person narrative books by Terkels (1992) and Game et al. (2013). When we needed to insert a transition to provide a better sense of flow between passages, we employed the vocal transitions used by the coaches themselves. Early in the process we decided to let go of any attempt at comprehensiveness. The stories are not complete biographies. They don’t tell you everything that could be said by, or about, the coaches. They are fragments, snippets,
glimpses into their incredibly rich lives. Yet when read together, the stories compliment each other. They fill in blanks, draw parallels, and highlight both difference and similarity in experience and attitude. We have arranged the narratives in chronological order so that the most senior coaches speak first. This also allows the book to convey the passing of time and highlight changes that have occurred in it. Starting out on the streets of Darwin in the 1940s, the narratives encompass almost 80 years of Indigenous sport in Australia. Much has changed in that time, and so too the political vocabulary that coaches employ to describe their opportunities, their relationship with Black politics, and how they envision their role as current, future, and emerging leaders. As a result, there are changes in the terminology that coaches use. Most of the older coaches prefer Aboriginal, while, on the whole, most younger coaches prefer Indigenous. We have not made any attempt to standardise terminology. Each coach speaks in the terms they would use in their everyday lives. We gave the edited versions of the interviews back to the coaches for feedback and, when offered, incorporated any suggestions they made. The interviews took place across a four year period. Some coaches wanted to update or add information, or qualify something they had said. Others had new things to say. The stories presented here are a collaboration between all of us. In this process, as in any writing project, our personal biographies, education and training, interests, activist agendas and sympathies, have come to bear on the curation of these narratives. We take responsibility for the way they have been presented. However, the words, the rhythms of speech and unique forms of expression, phrasing and grammar, indeed the integrity of these narratives, belong to the 23 Aboriginal coaches who shared their stories with us. The book is built on their words, rather than our own.
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Rogers, C. (1989). Carl Rogers: Dialogues. In Conversations with Martin Buber, Paul Tillich, B. F. Skinner, Gregory Bateson, Michael Polanyi, Rollo May, and others, eds. H Kirschenbaum and V Henderson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. Rossi, T. (2015). Expecting too much? Can Indigenous sport programmes in Australia deliver development and social outcomes? International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7(2), 181– 195. https://doi.org/10.1080/19406940.2014.971125. Rossi, T., & Rynne, S. (2014). Sport development programmes for Indigenous Australians: innovation, inclusion and development, or a product of ‘white guilt’? Sport in Society, 17(8), 1030–1045. https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2013.838355. Rynne, S. (2016). Exploring the pedagogical possibilities of Indigenous sport-for-development programmes using a socio-personal approach. Sport, Education and Society, 21(4), 605–622. https://doi.org/10.1080/13573322.2015.1107830. Sheppard, L. K., Rynne, S. B., & Willis, J. M. (2019). Sport as a cultural offset in Aboriginal Australia? Annals of Leisure Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/11745398.2019.1635895. Stronach, M., & Adair, D. (2010). Lords of the square ring: Future capital and career transition issues for elite Indigenous Australian boxers. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal, 2, 46–70. Stronach, M., Adair, D., & Taylor, T. (2014). Game over’: Indigenous Australian sportsmen and athletic retirement. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2, 40–59. Stronach, M., Maxwell, H., & Taylor, T. (2016). ‘Sistas’ and Aunties: Sport, physical activity, and Indigenous Australian women. Annals of Leisure Research, 18(1), 7–26. Stronach, M., Maxwell, H., & Pearce, S. (2019). Indigenous Australian women promoting health through sport. Sport Management Review, 22(1), 5–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smr.2018. 04.007. Tatz, C. 1987. Aborigines in sport. Bedford Park, S. Aust: Australian Society for Sports History. Tatz, C. (1995). Obstacle race: Aborigines in sport. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. Tatz, C. M., & Adair, D. (2009). Darkness and a little light: ‘Race’ and sport in Australia. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2(2), 1–14. Terkels, S. (1992). Race: How blacks and whites think and feel about the American Obsession. New York: New Press. Thomson, A., Darcy, S., & Pearce, S. (2010). Ganma theory and third-sector sport-development programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth: Implications for sports management. Sport Management Review, 13, 313–330. Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012). Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (2nd ed.). New York: Zed Books. Tynan, M., & Briggs, P. (2013). How culturally competent is the Australian Football League (AFL)? The International Journal of Sport and Society, 3, 191–205. United Nations, N.D. Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Voices: Factsheet. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/5session_factsheet1.pdf,
‘But lately it’s been down, hardly any of them have been coming. Anyway, I’m still there and I’ll be there until the day I die I suppose.’ The late Mr Scully was from the Daly River mob but grew up in Darwin. He played rugby league for the Brisbane All Blacks and in the 1950s represented Queensland (QLD) in the Australian Boxing titles. Mr Scully was a boxing coach of 45 years and established a boxing club in Darwin that gave young Aboriginal people a place to train and be mentored.
I was born in Darwin. My people are the Daly River mob. I was there until I was 13,14 then I went to Brisbane. My father, he was supposed to go on holidays, but it turned out to be a 17-year holiday, so we all stayed there! I did a bit of boxing in Darwin as a kid, but when we went to Brisbane I joined a club. It was at Lang Park where they played the rugby league. Our coach was a guy called Reg Lackey. He was a very hard man but he taught us how to fight right. There was a group of us, about five or six Indigenous boxers that came 15 miles by train. We used to get the train to Milton Station and walk the rest of the way to the gym. Sometimes we had the fare, sometimes we didn’t, so we jumped the trains. I apologised to Queensland Railways a couple of years ago for that. I also played soccer and rugby league. I played for the Brisbane All Blacks in the Sunday competition and we were a good club too. And at school sports I competed at the Gabba and the Exhibition Grounds as a runner and lo and behold I got a hiding, so I went into boxing. In 1953, as a 14-year-old, I won the seven stone title and I fought in the Courier Mail in 1955 and ‘56. I had about 20 amateur fights in Brisbane and won half of them. I represented Queensland in the Australian titles in 1956 to go to the Melbourne Olympics. I went to the semi-finals but I didn’t get picked as a reserve. There was a lot of controversy about the selections. One guy, he was in the finals and he didn’t go. He was Indigenous, so you know, it just seemed strange. He’s in the final but he can’t get named as a reserve? I had the same thing in the year 2000. I trained three East Timorese boxers in Darwin. They weren’t a nation then, but they made them a nation because they © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_2
2 Mr Scully—Boxing
wanted to join the Olympic Games. I trained the local kid and I took him to Brisbane and he won his fight. But when the time come ‘round to pick a coach for him to go to the Sydney Games I wasn’t even asked. I ended up going as a spectator because Boxing Australia had four tickets and they said if you can get your airfares and things there, you can go. So I applied for funding through the Indigenous mob down in Canberra—they had a development thing for Indigenous coaches—and they paid for my airfare and my accommodation. I even had free meals. I didn’t know that until a couple of days later, but I said, well that’s good. Yeah, I was a bit sad about the whole thing, but you know, life goes on. Well anyway after the selections for the Melbourne Olympics I left the amateurs and I went into professional, and in 1960 I won the junior welterweight title of New South Wales. And at that time too I was fighting as a light weight and I was rated number eight in Australia. So that was one of my best things. How I decided to become a coach was that I was a former boxer and I was home by day. My wife was working at the local school yard and they used to have those Blue Light dances that the police would put on. So the police asked Gwen, my wife, can your husband come down and show these kids some discipline? Because they were all on drugs. And that’s how I took it up and I’ve been here ever since. There’s a lot of Indigenous people up here, kids from broken homes and I help them. I have a little chat to them. I talk to them. And if they get into trouble, they want to learn boxing, I teach them. But they have to have discipline. There’s four or five kids come down with their mothers awhile a go and I told them they were drunks. I said, I don’t want to see any drunks here. And to the kids I say don’t use it, it’s bad for you. If I tell you what to do, you do what I tell you, or else that door there, you can go walking out now. I have girls and boys, but lately it’s been down, hardly any of them have been coming. Anyway, I’m still there and I’ll be there until the day I die I suppose. There’s a lot of dislike up here about boxing. Some government officials and in the administration part of Sport and Rec, they don’t like it and they don’t want it to get too big. They’ll give money to rugby league, basketball, soccer and all that, to build stadiums, but boxing is last. I even drew up plans for a facility in NT, but they refused the loan. They said we didn’t have a good committee or we couldn’t maintain it, so that all went to pieces. But I don’t understand it, people will stand in the street and watch a fight, but they don’t like boxing! Well I’ll tell you what, boxing done great things for me. When I was in growing up in Darwin it was a pretty hard place and you had to learn how to fight and defend yourself. I could have gone the other way because as kids, we used to get into trouble. But boxing kept me off the streets. I’m in training and I’m fighting in the ring. I went tournaments around the country and out of the country. I went overseas with boxing. What more could you ask? Yeah, so boxing has done a real good thing for me. My philosophy is, I want a boxer to be a boxer fighter. I want him to be out boxing the other blokes, to fight when he’s in close and to do the foxing. I want him to get in and get out and try not to get hurt. So he’s got to be a boxer fighter and that’s what I train them to be. And I’ve trained a few that have done pretty well. There were two blokes in that club that won Australian titles and one went to the Olympic Games in Sydney. That was Henry Collins. I was training him there. And another
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one was a Darwin boy, he won the Australian titles with me in 2006. And I had a bloke called Anthony Liddle from Western Australia and I was in his corner at the Oceania games, and we won a gold medal. And now I’ve got a bloke and I train him to train my blokes. So we share it. We might not be greatest coaches, but I tell you what, some of them win so we must be doing something right. You were asking why there weren’t many Indigenous coaches around and there aren’t. I’m the only one. There’s Phil Johns in Queensland and I think there’s some up in North Queensland, around Cairns, but I never see them at a national or big tournaments. And that’s a pity because they’ve got that gift to coach people. I went to Garden Point, Melville Islands and there were heaps of people and I know they’ll do a good job but in the coaching area they’re a bit shy. Once they get into it they’ll break out but it needs to be presented to them. Also, I think what’s happened is that Boxing Australia has jumped the gun about intelligence. We are the working-class people, okay, so the exams should be plain and simple like the State ones used to be, a simple questionnaire which our people could understand. But they bring up things in the exams that are higher than our education can teach. So there’s a gap between us and the hierarchy. I think that’s where the problem lies. Alright, we all know how to throw a punch and do skipping and all the things like that, but what about the administration part? And that’s where I think it’s lacking. In the training they should have more about the administration part. I mean it’s harder now with these computerised things coming in. Some people don’t know how to use a computer. I’m always on the computer so I get away with it, but I’m no expert. But I do say there should be more Indigenous coaches. If it’s on the world scene and people from other parts of the world see that, they say, hello, these people are doing alright. They’ve been given the opportunity and good luck to them.
Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM—Netball
‘I’m on the executive and I’m the Aboriginal woman, so everybody comes to me.’ Marcia Ella-Duncan grew up in La Perouse, and is the descendant of Gandangara and Walbunja people. Marcia is a Netball Australia Board Member and was recently inducted into the Netball Australia Hall of Fame. She was the Coaching Coordinator at Randwick Netball Association and holds an Intermediate level Netball coaching accreditation. Marcia has also been active in a wide range of Aboriginal Affairs, from sport to child protection, criminal justice, and Aboriginal housing.
I was born and raised in La Perouse, Sydney. I identify strongly with the La Perouse Aboriginal community who are traditionally the Bidgigal people. My father is connected to the Bidgigal people and my mother is a Walbunja woman, so we’ve got a strong traditional connection with the south coast as well. I’m the ninth of twelve children and we all played sport in our family. That was how our parents kept sane. We had a little three-bedroom house, outdoor toilet, no plumbing, maybe two power points in the house. It was really crowded, so when we got home from school we’d eat a few loaves of bread and then we got kicked outside. We’d grab a ball or a bat and ball if it was summer, and go down to the beach at the end of our street and play a game. There would be 30 or 40 kids and we were related to 90% of them. We turned everything into a game. You know one day a week my mother would down tools in the kitchen and it was … we used to call it catch and kill, so whatever you could rustle up in the kitchen that’s what you had. And because there were so many of us, we’d just quite naturally, quite organically, form teams. Me and my three younger brothers, we would be one team, then there would be Glen, Mark and Gary, they would be another a team, and my older brother Rodney and whoever else was around, if there was another sister or something around, and we’d go in and we’d end up having like a cooking competition. Like, who cooked the best meal! That was every Sunday. So that sense of competition was an intricate part of our family and our community. And because my older sisters were married and had moved out of home by the time I was growing up, I grew up surrounded by my brothers. The boys hated me © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_3
3 Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM—Netball
playing with them and they would treat me really badly. I would get spear tackled, dumped tackled. I don’t know how many times I crawled back into the house on my hands and knees and said ‘Mum they’ve winded me’. She’d say ‘well girl, if you want to play with the boys you’ve got to take it like the boys’. So I got tough at a young age and I’ve never really thought about it but I think that probably helped to shape my attitude to sport because you know, sometimes it hurts and doesn’t always go your way but, you’ve got to get back up and go again. I also grew up watching my older sisters play netball and waiting forever for the day when I’d be old enough to play too. I think I was about 9 when I put on a netball skirt for the first time. We were playing with the local club, which my mother founded and we only had a 14-year-old team. So I was 9 playing with the 14s and like a lot of Aboriginal kids, I was very skinny and very little and I got smashed every week (laughs). The first team I coached was a 10 or 11-year-old netball team. I was 15 and I was co-coaching with my bestie, Suzie. I can’t remember if we won or not. We didn’t know anything about coaching. Knew how to play netball, that was it! But we had lots of fun. Suzie and I are both fiercely competitive people but we knew how to make it fun and we took that to our team. Now I know, of course, that that’s the best way to coach. My brothers have said the same thing about rugby: ‘If it’s not fun I’m not going to do it.’ You know, there is this huge stereotype that we’re lazy and we don’t like training. But at the risk of over-generalising, Aboriginal people are very competitive. We love beating each other, but we do it in a fun way. We take the mickey out of each other, we take the mickey out of ourselves. We’ll goof around, but we’ll beat you at the same time (laughing)! Most coaches don’t see the underlying level of competitiveness. All they see is the goofing around. I had a break from coaching when my representative career started and I didn’t come back to it until I retired in my early 20s. But I’ve been coaching club and representative netball ever since. Mostly I’ve coached children’s teams, but in the last five years I’ve been coaching seniors. I also got involved in the executive at Randwick and now I’m the coaching coordinator. I’ve really turned things upside down, but because I have this administrative function my club coaching has dropped off. That’s disappointing because that’s with all the Aboriginal kids. I’ve never been an ambitious coach but I recently did my advanced accreditation and got some good feedback from some well-respected coaches and that has boosted my confidence. Getting that feedback has been important because I haven’t had people at that higher level willing to observe me and give me that feedback. Invisibility has been a big issue for me in my career. I go to the ANZ and the International Games and all of my peers are sitting on the benches coaching. Why aren’t I there? I’ve never been given the opportunity. No-one ever sat me down as said you are a great player, would you like to coach. That pathway has never been put before me. I don’t think there is enough excitement around the potential that Aboriginal athletes have as coaches in their own right. Given all the social, emotional and economic benefits of Aboriginal participation in sport, I don’t know why we’re not looking at that.
3 Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM—Netball
But there have been other things too, other barriers. I got married young and had babies and moved to the country so I sort of fell off the radar for a bit. I have tremendous community responsibility and family responsibility and that’s typical for a lot of Aboriginal sports people. I have my two daughters living at home with me. My oldest daughter has two daughters, a one and a three-year-old, they all live with me. We rear our kids in the extended family and community context and for most people that might make the burden a bit lighter but for me it’s an additional burden. I’m Chair of our Local Aboriginal Land Council so I have those commitments. I’m on a number of boards and committees. In the last two weeks we’ve had five funerals to attend. That’s been my load since I was in my early 20s. I’m also really committed to getting Aboriginal women involved in sport and I do a lot of work with NASCA. I’ve volunteered to run an Aboriginal coaching accreditation next month down the south coast in the Eurobodalla. I’m also on the executive at my club and I’m the Aboriginal woman, so everybody comes to me. At the beginning of the season there’s always a flurry of phone calls from people whose kids are coming to Sydney. Sometimes when Aboriginal kids come down from the country they are just blown away by the city and being so far away from home. I’ll get a phone call from somebody to say, ‘oh there’s this really talented Aboriginal girl, she’s at boarding school, she’s from a country town, she’s a great athlete, we don’t want her to slip through the crack, can you contact her’. So I will get in touch with her, ‘how are you going, this is who I am, such and such put me in touch with you, have you registered to play netball, can you get to the trial, does your teacher know that you’ve got these commitments and I’ll talk with the school’. Usually it’s the coach or the parent that’s contacted me from the country and if the kid’s good enough I try to poach them. I rarely succeed! So I just make sure that their kid’s on the right path. ‘This is my number, call me if you need anything’. But I can’t keep doing it all myself so if I can involve someone else I’ll do that. I use it as an opportunity to teach someone else how to better support Aboriginal kids. I feel strongly about trying to culturally educate people around me. I’ve had coaches that have got Aboriginal kids in their rep team and they make assumptions about what’s going on for those kids. We had one girl who had been coming late to training and the coach wanted to kick her off the team. It turns out that mum’s got a big family, one car, they all play sport, she works in the evenings. We just need to be a little bit flexible, can we organise transport? Another kid had the worst shoes. She was training in happy shoes that were far too big for her. They just couldn’t afford to buy bloody shoes, you know. So we went and got a whole heap of shoes and didn’t just give them to that kid but we gave them to a heap of kids, a heap of kids that needed shoes, both black and white. So its just little things like that. Coaches are jumping to conclusions about what’s going on for kids, assuming the parents don’t give a shit. Well the parents care a great deal, they just haven’t got the money to buy shoes for seven kids! I do that with my mentor too. She knows my grandchildren, she knows my children, she knows my home life. My kids call her Aunty Rhonda. ‘Why are they calling me that’? It’s a sign of respect. I’ve had to ease her into our language. She doesn’t get
3 Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM—Netball
offended now when I’m saying Blackfellas and Whitefellas and Kooris and whatever. She understands that there are times when I just can’t do anything because I’ve got family and community obligation so she’s really cool with that. We get really creative around where we meet and when we meet because time is tricky and my home is so chaotic. So she is giving me coaching feedback and prodding about my career and I’m giving her a bit of a cultural induction.
Lloyd Walker—Rugby Union
‘I think I had a lot of experience. I just think they didn’t want to have an Aboriginal head coach. People say they are not racist, but they don’t want an Aboriginal doing the good position. It is an underlying racism.’ Lloyd Walker is a Bidgigal man who grew up in La Perouse. Lloyd represented Australia in Rugby Union in the early 1980s. He works on the NSW parole board and has coached professionally in Japan, and in Australia, culminating in his role as assistant coach for the Wallabies.
I started at the mission at La Perouse, starting playing rugby league at the age of five. Played all primary school, league. Went to Matraville High. Started playing rugby with the famous Ella brothers, of course. I’m the same age bracket as those boys. We played right up ‘til we were fifteen. Won the first Buchan Shield which is the state-wide knock-out in Rugby Union. Then we went to year eleven and twelve, won the state-wide knock out two years in a row. I think in two years we were beaten once. At the stage where, we were the first Aboriginals to play Rugby Union, you know, so we used to cop a lot on the field as well. But if they resort to that you’ve got ‘em beat. So that’d encourage you all to play a bit harder. We were a bit lucky in that way because we had a couple of us. It’s always been private schools. These are the days before they gave Aboriginal scholarships out. None of these blokes would have a seen an Aboriginal before. I remember we played a team, I think it was Cromer. It used to be out at the Hospital, near Long Bay, Prince Henry Hospital, and we beat ‘em one hundred and eight to nil, in a Waratah shield game. And we walked off and a bloke said, ‘we would have beat you if you played League’. I said, ‘you got to tackle in League as well’! After that I went and played with Randwick Colts and we won the competition. Then I played at Randwick. Started 19. Finished at 35, where I won the club premierships. I played over 270 first grade games with Randwick. Played with New South Wales. Played about thirty times with the Waratahs and played seven tests for Australia. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_4
4 Lloyd Walker—Rugby Union
Throughout those years I had a season in Ireland, I had a season in France, South of France. At that stage, a year or two later, Rugby went professional. So that was a big change for the old ethos of Rugby Union when the money become involved. Where it used to be for private school boys, now as you know there’s a lot of … not just Indigenous but Islander boys are playing Rugby now, so it’s been beneficial to them. This is the time when it went professional, they were still working out what to pay players and coaches, so it was a big learning curve for the Rugby Union establishment. There were a lot of discussions about payment of players. I tried to hold on to that. I knew it was coming, but the grey hair caught up. I blame me parents all the time about that (laughs). I retired at 35, so I was kind of very late to retire, in Rugby, at that age. I guess the situation was as well, I played Rugby for a lot of years but there was no real financial gain. At the stage of the turnover, you can make a few dollars by coaching, so my wife was keen for me to coach, especially if it was overseas (laughs). At a junior age my father used to coach us so I guess it’s always—and I classify myself as a pretty strategic player when I play—so I thought the natural progression was going into coaching after that … you know, like I’d work out all the plays to play when we were on the field and I’d call them … and when I retired at Randwick, I was the captain at Randwick. Ten years before that I was a backs captain, vice-captain, so I think I had a very good understanding of the game. And I went to school with a bloke called Warwick Melrose who was the general manager at Southern Districts, so he got me to coach the first grade side there. I went to school with him. Played Rugby with him. He knew my capacity. He didn’t really worry about perceptions about Aboriginal people you know, because he knew me first hand. I coached them, but then I was appointed assistant Wallaby coach so I had to kind of forgo the Southern Districts. I coached the Wallabies for two years, as a back line coach. Then I guess I lost that job, then we moved on so I concentrated on my work for the next couple of years. After that I went on to the Newington job.1 The Newington job was part-time as I worked on the NSW parole board so that kept me pretty busy. And in between all that I was going to Japan as well where I coached Kobe rugby for a year. Then after that I worked with the IBM Big Blue rugby team in Tokyo. So I guess that was kind of me coaching. I’ve had a lot of coaches over the years. I usually take the good stuff and throw away the bad stuff. But, Geoff Mould our school teacher from 12 to 18, was the most influence about … I guess he gives you the love of the game. I remember at high school we used to go and watch—that’s when the famous Welsh team, you know J.P.R Williams, J.J Williams—Geoff Mould used to get these old, you know, the old reel films, ‘boys I got one’! We used to run up and watch it at lunch time. So really gave our … especially the way they played, they were very attacking and a very good side. So yeah, just went on from there. The love of the game. And I guess once you retire the only way really to participate is to be a coach. I think I had a lot to offer as a coach. You know, with my skills at Randwick, with the open style Rugby that
boys school in Sydney.
4 Lloyd Walker—Rugby Union
was very important to me, that people keep running all the time, not kicking the ball away like they do in England all the time. So, yeah, I guess, it’s the love of the game. I think teaching boys you know you could really see the improvement. When you coach with the Wallabies you just find you can’t change, you can’t teach them new tricks. With the boys you really see the fruits of your training with them and their skill base. And yeah, it was fun and I really enjoyed that. I think the main role is putting all the players in the one direction, so there’s no confusion. Getting them physically ready …. contact sport, giving them the ability to be physically ready. You know, and then there’s the safety thing too. Make sure they are well versed in scrums. And yeah, so bringing the players together in one common goal and getting them prepared enough to achieve that goal. But the way you treat the player may change a little bit when you know what’s happening in the background. You wouldn’t, I don’t think you’d have to give advice on that. But at the same time, you don’t want to inflame the situation by what you say to them. So it’s good to know about it, but as Michael Cheika said, I’m not their social worker so there’s always going to be things happening in the background and it’s good to know about it, yeah. But at the end of the day, you want this player with turmoil in his life to come to training, which is bit of a release, run around with the boys. The boys are the better support for him than the coach, I think. Maybe, they can talk together a little bit, more than likely. You usually have one or two or three players who’ll come up and say, you know, this one is having some problems and I’ll thank them and you’ll work out like a little team and you’ll give them a part and say, well listen, you’re the senior players of the team, any problems with the team, I’d like to know. I don’t want to judge anyone or anything and if you have any ideas, so you give players ownership, so if you have any ideas we’ll run across, ‘cause I think a lot of coaches come to their downfall where they think they know everything. The game is evolving all the time, it’s a learning curve all the time, so I think if coaches think they know everything, they wont stay in the game very long. And informal networks help too. I went to school with Eddie Jones, so he’s the English coach now (Laughs). I played with Ewan McKenzie.2 And I know Michael Cheika, the former Wallabies coach. I played with him … at Randwick. And that’s, like when I played in France, I played with him. I know him really well. We have lunch occasionally… yeah. And he will bounce a few things with me, as well. But with my scenario I moved up very quickly, but then it stalled for years and years. With all my coaching jobs, it’s always been the system. So it’s interesting where, I guess, the prejudice in Rugby Union, with the private schools, was a barrier straight away for any Indigenous coach. So there’s no doubt I applied for a lot of head coaching jobs and never got them. Yeah, so, the final interview, you go for jobs and then they say there was a better candidate. I didn’t really go into that much, but usually you’ll find the head bloke would ask if I wanted to be the assistant coach. So, more than likely I’d say no. Yeah, so … I think I had a lot of experience. I just think they didn’t want to have an Aboriginal head coach. People say they are not racist, but they don’t want an Aboriginal doing the good position. It is an underlying 2 Former
Waratahs, Reds and Wallabies coach.
4 Lloyd Walker—Rugby Union
racism. I think it’s all sports. If you look at Adam Goodes’ scenario, um, would we see an Aboriginal head coach on an AFL team. No way. I was born in ‘59 so when I was born Aboriginal people didn’t vote, so it’s a long hard road but you’ve got to show them success cases and I say it to my kids all the time, the best way to change people’s mind is, ‘aw what do you do?’, ‘I’m a lawyer’. ‘Oh’. We all don’t sit around on the mission. So it’s the perception of the white man about Aboriginals that’s gotta change. That’s part of it, socially. And hopefully that’ll, of course, lead to coaches of sporting teams. There are so many good Aboriginal players, Koori players, across all different sports. You know, Hockey, across all different sports and they really achieve the highest level ever. But you never see them in the press, but if we can sort that out, rectify it, no doubt it’ll help with our integration all over. When you see successful people from different cultures usually the esteem of those people goes up a little bit. It’s just human nature so, we’ll just see what happens.
Gary Ella—Rugby Union
‘The reason I took up coaching originally was to look after the kids from La Pa. I thought that they’d have a better opportunity of staying in the game if they had another Blackfella coaching, so that was definitely there.’ Gary Ella grew up on Bidgigal land and is a descendant of the Gandangara and Walbunja peoples. He is one of the greatest ruby union players in history having played for Randwick, the New South Wales Waratahs, and Australia. Gary coached for more than 30 years at community, representative and national levels with Randwick, the Waratahs, Leinster, and the Australian under 19s team. He has had a successful career working in Aboriginal Affairs, with the Sydney Olympic Games Organising Committee and, more recently, for Randwick Council as the Community Development Coordinator.
I grew up in a fairly large family. 12 kids—all interested in sport. Growing up at La Perouse, everyone was pretty well interested in the South Sydney Rabbitohs. My uncle Bruce played first grade for the Rabbitohs and then he moved to the Roosters, so the alliances sort of changed a little bit. But it was always a league area you know, and all the family played either netball or league. Then at high school it changed to rugby union for myself and my two brothers, Mark and Glen, mainly because that’s the sport they were playing. Coming into Year 12 there was an opportunity to tour Europe with the Australian School Boys team, but you had to be purely rugby at that stage. So the three of us managed to get picked in the Australian Schools Boys team and all of a sudden, we became instantly celebrities. It was very rare to get Aboriginal people playing rugby at that stage, so three brothers in a national team created a bit of a stir around the place. And then the fact that we went through undefeated created a few headlines. So when we came back, we all went straight into first grade at Randwick. And, you know, had the opportunity to play for the Waratahs, Sydney, and the Wallabies. So it’s a long history playing wise. I started coaching just as I finished playing. I was coaching Clovelly under 14s, 15s, ‘cause they were looking for a coach and I played my junior rugby with them. And that was in … well, my playing period went through two periods. I played up until ‘84 and had a few knee injuries and wasn’t really going to play again. So I went © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_5
5 Gary Ella—Rugby Union
out to Bourke for work. While I was out there, they talked me into coaching. And I got sick of watching. At one stage I asked one of the players to lend me his boots and I went on! I got myself into a bit of trouble, but that was okay. Then came back to Sydney at the end of ‘87. Ended up playing a few games for the Waratahs and a couple of test matches. The knee was obviously improved a bit. And then I played the last season in ‘89. So I started coaching at Clovelly in ‘83, ‘84, before I went away to Bourke. That was a bit of fun, but no qualifications, no real knowledge. I think I was a driver more than coach—a chauffeur, getting the kids to the games! So it really wasn’t coaching. It was more organising and getting kids to games and stuff. There was a lot of supervision in that, and there was a lot of Aboriginal kids playing, you know. They were playing rugby at school and they were playing league on Sundays. They were trying to get the game better. In a sense, they were almost trying to follow the paths that my brothers had gone down. So we were trying to give them as much support in that as possible. And they weren’t too bad, you know, we won both premierships. We had some fairly good players in the team, but I think those guys were really more interested in playing league than playing rugby. And it’s funny, I think that almost turned me off because I was pretty frustrated in not having the time to coach the kids. So it wasn’t until I’d retired in ‘89 as a player that I really started to coach. But there was no plan to it. It was a case of wanting to still have have contact with the game, still have contact with the players. By the time I’d retired I think I was enjoying training sessions more than playing. Because you missed those beers after the game, you miss the beers after the training, you know, you miss that interaction that you have with the players, you miss the playing touch at training. And I think I was missing that atmosphere and that environment more so than the playing. So coaching sort of put some of that back. Plus, I was a reasonable sort of player, and I’d being playing for a long time, so I thought I had a bit to give back. Coming back to the coaching point of view, I had the opportunity to support a mate who was coaching at second grade Randwick, and we ended up winning that premiership. The following year I got promoted to coach first grade, won that premiership. It was funny, I won two premierships and then got sacked! Long story. Then did a little bit with Manly, picked up the coaching position as the head coach of New South Wales under 19s, did that for two years. Coached the Australian under 19s team for four years. Then at the end of that I went from working with Aboriginal Affairs and worked four years with the organising committee for the Sydney Olympic Games Organising Committee (SOCOG). And at the end of that, in ‘96, had an opportunity to coach the Waratah backline, the first year of Super Rugby. But I needed that to be full-time. New South Wales Rugby thought that I could only do it part-time, but it didn’t work with no full-time job. So I stopped coaching at that stage and continued with the under 19s, from ‘97 to 2000. And at the end of that, Bob Dwyer offered me a professional coaching gig with the Waratahs as his assistant coach. I stayed with the Waratahs three years, during that period was the coach with Australia A for two of those years. At the end of that, I coached Leinster in Dublin as the head coach for 12 months. Come back, coached Parramatta for four years.
5 Gary Ella—Rugby Union
Went back to Randwick for another year. Was the head coach there—but basically had enough at that stage. The reason I took up coaching originally was to look after the kids from La Pa. I thought that they’d have a better opportunity of staying in the game if they had another Blackfella coaching, so that was definitely there. I mean, I originally started coaching with the Lloyd McDermott team for obvious reasons. And you know, Andrew Walker and a few of those guys, when they first come to Sydney, I was coaching those guys. They were staying at my place, so that obviously had an effect on them staying with the game. So yeah, there was culture in that. And I think there were a couple of the under 19s team actually enjoyed that as well, ‘cause there was a little bit more freedom in how they expressed themselves in the game. They immediately picked up that I was fairly keen on them showing what talents that they had. I think that most Aboriginal sports people like it free and easy, like to show off a little bit. And I think that came through a little bit with my coaching as well, that I liked the guys to actually show off their skills, and if they wanted to celebrate, then that was fine. If they carry on a little bit afterwards, that was fine. You know, there was a little bit of a relaxed atmosphere. Although when the whistle goes for training, I expect everyone to switch on, we’re down to business. And I think the players that I coached enjoyed that, the fact that it wasn’t this—I might as well say it—middle class, St Joseph’s College type coaching, with everything planned to the last section of minute detail. I think most of those guys enjoyed having a say in it as well. I think you find that within our culture we do like people having their voice or opinion heard. You know, although we have a hierarchy, it’s generally for advice, it’s not for being ordered around all the time. I think the guys enjoyed that when I was coaching. I think it certainly helped some of our shyer players. It’s funny, when we were playing, we seemed to get on really well with guys from Parramatta. You know, they were hated on the field ‘cause we belted the shit out of each other. But because we were coming from that not, middle-or upper-class sort of background, we hit it off on the social scene. And I’m not having a go at the private school guys, it’s just we had more in common with those sort of guys. And I guess that came through in my coaching a fair bit as well. I sort of encouraged everyone to have an opinion. Sometimes there were barriers, at the beginning, and you needed to work on that a bit. There were players that come around with certain opinions about themselves and about where they come from and where you’d come from. But that generally didn’t last too long. I mean they had to prove themselves and you had to prove yourself to them. But after awhile you broke through those barriers and built a working relationship. I mean you don’t have to be best mates with everybody in your team, as long as there’s mutual respect. Sometimes at club level you get into those bias situations, but it’s more about the guys that are professional rugby players getting upset at non-professional players. Because, you know, a non-professional player might turn up for training a bit late because they finish work at Parramatta and need to get to Coogee at 6 pm. There was a little bit of that side of it, and that really came down to a class situation, it
5 Gary Ella—Rugby Union
wasn’t necessarily ‘cause they were Blackfellas or Whitefellas. Although I’d say the majority of them were Islanders or Aboriginal players that they were whinging about, but I think it was more, ‘They should be here training.’ It was, ‘They shouldn’t be late, you should drop them’. I’m going, ‘Why would I drop someone who’s just finished work at Parramatta at 5 o’clock and expect them to be on the dot at 6 o’clock. It ain’t gonna happen. There’s got to be some leeway here.’ You know, ‘cause you get professional guys, they’re training full time. You can’t then whinge about people that are only doing it on a part-time basis. And again, most of those doing it on a part-time basis were the Islanders or the Aboriginal guys, so it may have appeared that there was a bias against them, but I thought it was more a class thing and they’re upbringing, coming from old money. Where if you look at that as a racism thing, then you’re looking at the whole society set up, rather than it just being a sporting club. But most guys when they were on the same team were generally pulling in the same direction. And I was starting to get caught up in all the political side of how things were at club level too, and it was driving me crazy. That’s one thing when you start getting to professional coaching, you’re not just responding to the players, you’re responding to boards and you’ve got CEOs and the media, spectators and it keeps going back to the parents. It’s just a pain in the arse. You know, getting the players on the field is the easy part, it’s all the stuff outside it—all of those interferences that you try to keep away from the players that probably take up most of your energy. And I take my hat off to anyone that’s coaching the under 19s. At least they get a little bit of structure about them at 19s. Couldn’t imagine coaching kids just out of nappies, that’d drive me crazy. That’d be a hard job. You know, I used to go watch my son being coach, and my wife used to say, ‘Why don’t you jump in and help?’ I’d say, ‘Are you kidding? I just want to watch.’ ‘Cause I’d had enough. And you can imagine another coach coming in saying, ‘I want to give you a hand.’ You know, you’ve got a professional coach that wants to butt in. It’d be the worst thing in the world! Different if he asked. But I couldn’t imagine anything worse than butting in. No. Good coaches are those who want to be there rather than forcing it and, in the end, I was thinking that I was just doing it because it was a job. That’s why I got out. Who’s to say I won’t get back there? Coaching with my grandchildren? No, that’d be watching. Knowing how much fun it is these days sitting on the oval having a beer, having something to eat and having no involvement but watching.
Phil Duncan—Rugby League
‘I think it’s recognised that everybody wants a crack and one of the key things is having a club that reflects our community, and decision-making mechanisms that represent our community.’ Phil Duncan is a member of the Gomeroi Nation and elected representative of the Gomeroi Nation Native Title Claimant Group. He has a long history working in Aboriginal Affairs across a number of portfolios, including organisational reconciliation, cultural safety training, and natural resource management. He is the president of the Pearlers Netball Club and has had representative coaching roles with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Union Development Team, NSW Rugby League Koori U16’s and Redfern All Blacks Women’s Team. Phil recently co-founded the Soapy Rowe Aboriginal Rugby League team, a Moree-based community sports program which uses sport to help young people with substance abuse problems.
Well, my proper name’s Leslie Philip Duncan. I take ‘Phil’ because I’m the fourth Leslie in my family: great-grandfather, grandfather, dad and me; we’re all the oldest. I’m a Gomeroi man, north-west slopes and plains of New South Wales, but my two traditional grounds are Moree and Terry Hie Hie up on the Queensland border. I can honestly say that growing up, I come from a very sporting family. I’m the oldest of five and we are all sporty. My brother Glenn was an Australian champion in Judo, Dean played Australian Oztag and Touch, both mainstream and Indigenous. Angela was a fantastic basketballer, runner and judo player and Vicki, well, she was a champion at everything! But Judo was the real family thing. Dad was president of Moree PCYC for 48 years, with black belts in three disciplines—jujitsu, judo and karate—and he was the key instructor. Mum was the secretary (laughter). She was always at the door to take the 10c or 20c that you had to pay. I had the responsibility of opening up the hall and getting people to set up, making sure all the mats were aligned. My brothers and sister would be there and other people who were heavily involved through their families. Being the oldest, I assumed an instructor’s role very early on, teaching junior classes before dad arrived. But when dad came along I always assumed my position back in the ranks, as a learner. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_6
6 Phil Duncan—Rugby League
I remember one of the greatest challenges that I was given was when my father bought me a set of gold clubs when I was 12-years-old. I became the first Aboriginal sub-junior golfer in Moree. I was a pretty damned good golfer, single figure. But turning up at 7 o’clock Saturday morning at the golf club and all the blokes you go to school with won’t play with you. Even though I went to school with them and played competitive golf to represent the school, come the weekend, she’s a different story. And that hit me between the eyes and I thought ‘Okay, here we go’. So my uncles and cousins rescheduled their competition times so that I could play golf with them because none of the other white kids would include me in their foursomes. But you know what? A lot of good lessons learned from it and I still play golf. So for me, sport was everything. I played golf, cricket, rugby. From the age of five I played Saturday morning rugby league in the Moree Junior Rugby League competition and was given the opportunity to represent the under 18s. Left Moree to try my hand playing over on the coast, came back and ended up coming to Sydney to have a crack with Balmain, which was 1986. Bit of a snap shot of that time. But I must say I was very fortunate being the oldest and having a bit of rugby league ability, because my mum and dad and all my brothers and sisters used to come and watch me play. It was good to walk off the game, have a shower, and go around and sit down to have a feed with the family then watch the remainder of the day’s sport. And I suppose in rugby league terms Arthur Beetson would have been the biggest influence on my desire to become the best rugby league coach I could be. My dad’s the oldest of 12, nine boys and three girls and one of my earliest memories of wanting to be a coach is sitting around listening to the men talk about Beetson, you know, the unwritten problems he would have faced in his progression to be a captain-coach and the respect that he earned to get there. And for those times, let’s be real, the White Australia Policy was only abolished in 1972 and here was an Aboriginal man, larger than life, skills like you would not believe, silky soft hands and tough as the best of them. And always talked about the game of rugby league and not about race. In those times, to have such a focus on being successful when the Aboriginal movement in Australia was crying out for a champion, and to keep race out of it, and always articulate that race is nothing to do with sport, either you’re good at it or you’re not, I think that inspired me to one day be a coach. My interest in coaching was also bitten by my father. My dad had a fair bit of that, you know, when you assume responsibility there’s a fair amount of respect that comes with it. Not that I was ever a disrespectful person or aspired to be respected without earning it, certainly not. I suppose I liked the responsibility and had my own ideas about how to do things. And I like the challenge. I like the pressure of looking into myself and coming up with something for other people to play to, a pattern. Critical analysis of players in the opposition and how they impact on that team and how I can break down that game and give my players a structure. I love that. I love the responsibility of inspiring my team. I’ve been told I’m a pretty good motivational speaker and I’d like to think I’m a good tactician too. I also love the responsibility of caring. One year, for instance, I coached under-19s in the Sydney combined competition, that awful competition … and they were getting all the bad publicity with the parents and I’m happy to say that I only had two players sent off.
6 Phil Duncan—Rugby League
Other teams had eight, six, four, five and I think that’s a reflection on how I like responsibility. But it’s not just about the sport. For me it’s the responsibility to make sure they’re good people. I was helping four young men who were street kids, helping them get a job, teaching them about cooking, cleaning, you know, personal development and a couple of them now live together. I feel compelled to help young men not make the mistakes that I made. And to be not only better young men, but to be better men throughout their journey in life. I didn’t aspire to a great education level. (Laughter) I didn’t do good at school. Sportwise, if you could get a degree in sport, yeah (laughter) I’d have got 98s and 99s. So my philosophy is probably based on my own lack of motivation and commitment to a quality education. But sport gave me the opportunity to be mentored into a shearing background, rural sector, and if you’d have asked me if I’d be sitting in this office and doing something, like I’ve chaired a federal council on natural resource management for 6 years, if you’d asked me … never. But sport provided that. So I developed my coaching through courses, because you have to do accreditation. But I also looked at what other coaches were doing, who I played against, who I coached against. Whenever I was given the opportunity to, say, be a bag carrier for a representative team, I always sat in and listened to what the coach was saying, always looked at the different drills that they’d set up. And I challenged myself, ‘I wonder what I can do different to that to enhance it as an extension.’ And you know, ‘Okay, if you’re going to do that, what’s the extension skill that you want from that set of skills that they’re going to get from that one drill?’. I also take a keen interest in the laws of the game because it’s important to be able to devise a game plan that fits within the rules, but also pushes the rules to the limit. I also think mentoring is a must. Coaches need someone to use as a sounding board and someone who can give critical analysis based on the better development of the individual. As a coach I’ve always sounded out mentors who wouldn’t bullshit me, people who would give me honest warts and all feedback. If you can’t take constructive criticism you’re never going to be a better coach. That’s what I believe. I’ve had a mixture of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mentors. Had to be. I don’t believe in locking myself inside the comfortable zone, which is working with my own mob, because the other thing that I’ve found, and this may sound corny, but sometimes us Blackfellas give one another too good a rap. I think coaching in the mainstream has assisted me greatly in coaching in Indigenous, coaching my own mob. The processes I use is no different, but there is a great deal more of my personal culture. When you’re in a specific Indigenous tournament you can liken it to tribal warfare in a sporting field, tribal competition, and that’s a distinct difference. I can probably give you an example of the cultural aspects that I would change when you’re doing a motivational talk. ‘This is about us; we’re here to represent our families and our mob, our Elders. Our mums and dads are out there, your kids are out there, your nieces and nephews, our grandparents are out there. And when you look down and you see that Moree boomerang logo and we’re going out there to play the Redfern All Blacks, you know that we come from out here, they’re from in the city. They’ve got a greater pathway of opportunity to be representatives.
6 Phil Duncan—Rugby League
We got to do everything twice as good as that’. So you use things like that. It’s a play on the cultural words and how you do it but the coaching is the same. For me, a coach should not change how he or she coaches, how he or she asserts authority or direction. I think it’s recognised that everybody wants a crack and one of the key things is having a club that reflects our community, and decision-making mechanisms that represent our community. We have to ensure it’s built on inclusiveness and we have a serious code of conduct where racism will not be tolerated and where friendship and family is what the foundation of the club’s built on. And when you’re putting your poster out on that fence, ‘We welcome all players’. It’s not, ‘We welcome Indigenous, Muslim’, and all that because I don’t believe in advertising Indigenous specific around sport because the Olympics is supposed to be free of all racial persuasions. And that’s the way I think grassroots community clubs have to be built. And a quick example of that is that there’s no difference between me and you except our physical makeup and our colour and how we look. But you know what? We’re looking for a common foundation. I bet your mother and father told you to be a hard worker, good friend, good father and a good community person. You know what? It’s not a revelation, mine said that too. And I would be very surprised if there wasn’t 99 or 95% of the communities that we grow up in, or that we live in, that every parent is not giving those same messages. That’s what I reckon.
Terry Hill—Football (Soccer)
‘I’m a bit of a strange character. I do things for political reasons as well.’ Terry Hill is a Yuin man born in La Perouse and raised in south-west Sydney. He has coached and administered football (soccer) clubs in his local community (wherever he lived) for over 30 years, has worked in Aboriginal Affairs since he left school, and is the current CEO of the Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council.
I was originally from the La Perouse community. Then we moved after the ‘67 referendum. That’s when they opened up housing for Aboriginal people. We moved to the Bankstown area, a place called Yagoona. I’m related to Glen, Mark, Gary, Marcia Ella, Andrew Walker, Lloyd Walker and Kyle Vander Kuyp—all Australian representatives. So, my kinship family have always been involved in sport. My grandmother and grandfather I believe were founding members of the La Perouse Football Club. I did play rugby league when I was young, but when we moved to Yagoona all the kids we went to school with played soccer. So we joined up for soccer and all the boys in the family played sport. We got involved in sport for social acceptance into the community because that’s what all the rest of the kids were doing, which was different because we were the only family within the extended family that played soccer. I often talk about the acceptance levels of our family within the community and the fact that people within the soccer community looked after the family and our welfare. We were a family that moved away from La Perouse—that’s where our family support and base was—so our family support base in terms of our location wasn’t as strong. My mother, who was a deserted mother with seven kids, relied heavily on support from the soccer community. They looked after us in all sorts of ways. I’m sure my mother never paid any soccer fees, so things like that were waived. People ensured that we were looked after. We got our boots. We got our uniforms and all that. It was no stress on our mother. In terms of getting us to sport, other families would pick us up and drop us off. So that support mechanism was there. Whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t know, but that was the community that I grew up in. We © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_7
7 Terry Hill—Football (Soccer)
were accepted. There was no open racism towards us. We were just another family in the community, and any sort of racism towards us wasn’t tolerated by people that supported us in the club. So, it was pretty good that way, we didn’t experience a lot of racism through soccer. Out at Bankstown at the time there wasn’t a lot of minority groups. I mean, there were some Greeks and Italians and Macedonians, but it wasn’t like it is today, a big, diverse community. It was mainly Aussies that played soccer out at Bankstown in those days. I kept playing soccer when I got older, into my adult years. In doing so, I noticed that my soccer club was struggling for coaches and other volunteers, so I decided to get involved. I wanted to get involved because there was the opportunity to give back to the community that looked after us as a family, that’s why I got involved. That’s as simple as that. When I got involved in the coaching and administration of soccer, people would often ask, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘I’m an Aboriginal’, and they’re quite surprised that an Aboriginal person would put so much time in and had the capacity and skills to actually be a President or a Secretary or to get involved in that level because they don’t see it often. And at the time I was the president of two different soccer clubs and quite actively involved. I’d spend anything up to 25, 30 hours a week at the soccer club and none of my kids played soccer. So that helps break down barriers in the community because here’s an Aboriginal person giving back to the community. I’ll give you an example. I used to be the delegate for the club to the Association. I had been going to delegate meetings for four or five years. One of the other delegates from another club said, ‘Terry, what are you?’ I said, ‘What do you mean, what am I?’ He said, ‘What are you? Are you Greek? Are you Italian?’ I said, ‘No, I’m Aboriginal.’ He was quite shocked to hear that an Aboriginal person was actually running a soccer club. He couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘No, I’m just a Blackfella, mate.’ He’s going, ‘Holy hell, I didn’t think Aboriginal people were involved in soccer.’ That’s the perception … I enjoyed the discussion and I said, ‘Where did you think I was from?’ Because I used to have a moustache and I looked very Indian or Greek or Italian or Middle Eastern or European, so I was in a sense accepted because people thought I was something different, you see? But when I told people I was a Koori, it was all good. It just helped break barriers down as well. I’m a bit of a strange character. I did these things for political reasons as well. That’s one of the reasons, to show people that we’re not all what you think we are. Actually, we can get involved in the local community and we can do good things. Because of my involvement over a long period of time, I’m highly regarded and respected within the Association. My early jobs, as a Teacher’s Aide and a Youth worker in the Redfern area, held me in good stead. I was working with young people anyway. From there it was just a natural progression to coach soccer because that’s the sport I was involved in. As you go along, you learn along the way, in relation to coaching kids and administration of local sporting clubs. When you are a coach, you’re not just teaching football skills. You’re teaching life skills things and that sort of stuff. So you’re not just a coach. You’re a mentor. You’re a friend. You’re an advisor. You’re all sorts of things and because of the nature of my work, that’s the approach that I used to take in soccer. As I said, I see soccer as an activity organised
7 Terry Hill—Football (Soccer)
to keep young people off the street and out of trouble. That’s the approach I used to take. Within that I teach kids about tolerance. There was never any bullying in my team. If I see people bullying people I used to sit down and talk to kids about that sort of stuff, about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. It’s not about winning competitions. It’s about teaching kids some life skills. Soccer was the medium. I used to say to all parents and kids, ‘I’m coaching but don’t expect to win a competition. I’m not here for that. I’m here to teach kids new skills or improve their skills and develop some of their social skills, so the acceptance around winning and losing and controlling your anger and holding yourself well.’ That type of stuff, building confidence in young people, because some coaches don’t do that. My greatest success as a coach was that I was fortunate enough to be given a team of young fellows at 13 and most of them were not confident at all in playing soccer, but I turned them into a team that ended up winning the division one competition. They had no confidence because of the way they were previously coached. They had a fellow that played rugby league, was coaching his son and he coached them from about six to twelve. So, they had six years limiting their development and having high expectations and poor coaching. So they’re the sort of reasons why I got involved with soccer because I see some horrible coaches around the place. All they want to do is win, win, and win, regardless of the cost. So my approach was pretty much the opposite. Winning for me was breaking down barriers, getting involved, and giving back to community. Not winning competitions.
Professor John Evans—Rugby Union/Athletics
‘I think that a lot of Aboriginal people who want to be coaches, if they’re not in the clique in the institutions that they’re working for, they hit a cultural ceiling; if they’re not part of the sort of in-crowd and they’re not part of the sort of power structures within sports organisations, then it’s very difficult for them to establish long-term careers.’ John Evans is an Aboriginal man and Professor of Indigenous Health at the University of Technology, Sydney. John has coached for more than 20 years in rugby union and athletics and has a level 3 rugby coaching qualification. He has extensive academic and industry experience in sports and exercise science, and Indigenous sport, health, and education. John is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Indigenous Research Fellow, holds a number of ARC research grants, and co-authored Advanced Rugby Coaching: An Holistic Approach.
I played a few sports growing up. In those days you could play rugby union on a Saturday and rugby league on a Sunday, and that’s something I continued for a fair while because it was just something I enjoyed doing. I also won an Australian Open beach sprint relay title when I joined the surf club in my very first year. Even though I was a little bit podgy then, I still was able to move pretty quickly. I was a semi-finalist in the Stawell Gift a couple of times, and I won 30-odd professional foot races including Bendigo, West Geelong, and Brighton Gifts, and I went second in the Burnie Gift in Tasmania. So, sort of sprinting and those things were really my forte. I guess sport was both good for my self-confidence and having a sense of success. But it was also good for establishing relationships with people. And most of the people I mixed with loved sport. All the Aboriginal families that I grew up with and played with, and even the ones that I didn’t mix with but played against, all loved sport. I think sport, if you read some of the work of you know, say Colin Tatz or John Maynard, sport’s one of the very few areas in our life where Aboriginal people have gotten access to. Sport’s always been an area of entry into the wider society. And my parents always loved sport, so that’s basically where it comes from, just our families have always loved sport and it’s one of the areas that is a talking point in many Aboriginal communities. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_8
8 Professor John Evans—Rugby Union/Athletics
Participation in sport also fuelled my desire to go back to university, so when I came to the end of my career as a sprinter, I went back and studied an undergraduate degree in Exercise and Sports Science at University of New South Wales, with a major in what was really Sports Coaching. I’d been living in Victoria for 10 years, so I came back home to Sydney, and found I did very well at it. I was a Distinction average student, so I then did my Masters in Exercise and Sports Science and Motor Skill Learning. I’d always harboured a thought in the back of my mind about going to university. I’d always thought that extending yourself academically and improving your qualifications was something that was quite admirable, and it was something neither of my parents were ever able to do, because both my parents left school. My mother left school a couple of years into high school and my father left at the age of 15. So neither of my parents had enjoyed a particularly good education and I often wondered what their life might have been like if they had an opportunity to go to school. When I say ‘school’ I mean, you know, further education. So, I’d always had a view that I wanted to channel my energies into doing something like that. But I think being involved in sport in a funny sort of way accelerated that or was a catalyst for it. And yeah, basically not long after the Master’s in Exercise and Sports Science I undertook a PhD at The University of Sydney, and a Master’s in Sports Coaching from the University of Queensland, which I completed. But I’d always harboured a desire to coach in rugby. I’d coached semiprofessionally in Japan, and I’d worked with the Australian Under 19s in a sort of a marginal role for five years. I then went to a number of Junior World Cups and stuff like that. So I thought that having a sort of background in coaching and in a sense, an undergraduate degree and also as a postgraduate degree, that eventually I would secure a job as a full-time professional coach. I sort of had aspirations of probably coaching at the Super 15 level, but that just didn’t eventuate. Yeah, I always envisioned that I would become a professional rugby coach after that, but it just didn’t pan out, it didn’t happen, and I think that’s got a lot to do with politics in sport and politics in clubs. And certainly the sorts of things I was trying to change or to put in place at the club I went to in my last sort of professional appointment. It didn’t happen and that was disappointing and certainly because I was already underway with my PhD and I was able to work with some of the best coaches in the world during my PhD that sort of helped me reshape what my future career was going to be, and it wasn’t going to be in coaching but it could be in academia associated with coaching. You know, Aboriginal people are really well accepted as athletes but if you look at the positions that they have across all the sporting codes, very few of them are coaches, very few are high performance managers, very few of them are strengthening and conditioning coaches. I think an extension of that is that I don’t think many Aboriginals are encouraged into that particular area once they finish their playing careers or are encouraged into that area as a result of their interest in sport. And you know, I think that’s just the nature of the institution of sport, or the field of sport. And I think it’s a very Australian context. I mean if you look around the world there’s been some changes say in NFL and basketball, there’s been an emergence of Black coaches, but that’s yet to happen here in Australia. So if you look at, you know,
8 Professor John Evans—Rugby Union/Athletics
the Black quarterback or the stacking theory in the States, that has changed because academics have shone a light on it and said, ‘Look, you know, you’ve got a lot of Black wide receivers. We don’t have any Black quarterbacks.’ So that’s the thing that’s changed in more recent times, and Black coaches in the NFL and the NBA are starting to emerge as a definite possibility for those sorts of people. Aboriginal or Indigenous people around the world are often seen as good physical capital for the sport but not intellectual, or they don’t have other capital that the sports want or desire. I think that a lot of Aboriginal people who want to be coaches, if they’re not in the clique in the institutions that they’re working for, they hit a cultural ceiling. If they’re not part of the sort of in-crowd and they’re not part of the sort of power structures within sports organisations, then it’s very difficult for them to establish long-term careers. But if you’re particularly interested in Aboriginal people being involved in your organisation or your programme or your club, then you’ve got to actively try and recruit them and support them. That’s my general idea, and then institutions themselves have got to look at the structures that they have inside. So you know, I’ve been continually critical of the ARU. It’s the same people just changing the jobs over and over again, so there’s no real change in what they do. It’s the same people making the same decisions. For example, I think the way the ARU runs its coach education program is a significant barrier to a lot of people getting involved with coaching. It’s very arbitrary, it’s all based on people’s opinion. For instance, at the time I first applied to do the Level 3 coaching programme I had a Master’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science with a major in Coaching and an undergraduate degree in Sports Coaching with a major in Coaching, and I couldn’t get onto the Level 3 program because it was all sort of driven by the club system and that sort of thing. I first applied in 2000 and I didn’t get on until 2006 to do it, and by then, really, my interests in coaching had changed. I needed it much earlier to establish a good coaching career so that was a bit of a struggle. But having said that, I did do it in 2006. I was still interested in a coaching career but the arbitrary nature, and I think there’s a bit of a cultural ceiling within rugby that stops certain people from poking their head through and having good go at it. I think that’s still a problem within the sport. The other thing is that, you know, if people do show an interest in coaching then they’ve got to have supporters, they’ve got to be in a system that’s going to provide them with some mentoring. And it’s kicked around a lot, but practical mentoring, where someone will take an interest in somebody and have their back or provide them with the advice at appropriate times—that helps them with their coaching career. Because look, institutions, clubs, have things like Reconciliation Action Plans, but they really don’t mean anything unless there’s some on the ground initiatives by sports and by clubs. Because a Reconciliation Action Plan is just a statement by the club or the institution, like the NRL has one, the AFL has one, Netball, they’ve all got them. They’re an expression of their desire to have Aboriginal people involved in their organisation and be supported. They’re all well and good, and they look good, and if you went
8 Professor John Evans—Rugby Union/Athletics
to Reconciliation Australia you would see lots of examples. But they don’t mean anything unless they’re supported with action, and appropriate action that works with people on the ground.
Sharon Finnan-White OAM—Netball
‘My ultimate goal is to see more Indigenous girls coming through the elite pathway into the Australian team because the more Indigenous girls we see at that level, the more role models we will have to continue to inspire the next generation.’ Sharon Finnan-White is an Anaiwan and Biripi woman. She represented Australia in netball, winning a Commonwealth Games Medal alongside two World Championships. Sharon is an Advanced level netball coach who has coached the Trinidad and Tobago, and South African national netball teams, and worked as National Netball Development Manager for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy. Sharon was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to sport and has been inducted into the Randwick City Council Hall of Fame, Netball NSW Hall of Fame, Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hall of Fame.
I’ve been playing competitive sport since I was nine. I played netball in my junior and senior schooling years and started making representative teams when I was twelve. I made the NSW and Australian Catholic Schoolgirls team when I was 16. I was a bit of a late bloomer actually. I didn’t come through the under 17s and 19s State teams, which is the usual pathway to the Australian team. I was a bit naïve about the whole selection process. I made my first State team at the age of 21, received a scholarship for the AIS and was selected for the Australian U21 team for the World Youth Cup in 1988. I made the Commonwealth Games team in 1990 and the 1991 World Championship team. From 1992 through to 1998 I missed out on the team. I kept making the squad, but I kept missing the cut. However I was played in the Australian B team during this period and a few one-off test matches. In 1999 I was reselected into the national team for the World Championships in Christchurch. I also played with Sydney Electricity and Sydney Sandpipers in the National League before moving to Queensland for work and joined the Queensland Firebirds. I played with them for three years and then retired from netball in 2000. When you’ve played at the highest level, the elite level, there is an assumption that you know everything about coaching netball. When I first made the Australian team, I had so many requests to visit communities and schools as a role model and © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_9
9 Sharon Finnan-White OAM—Netball
guest speaker and run coaching clinics. Because I don’t like to say no or let people down, I would try and attend as many as I could, even though I didn’t really feel confident, as I had no training in how to coach or how to be a good public speaker. I had to learn the hard way by taking myself out of my comfort zone and just do it and draw on the knowledge that I had acquired from all of my coaches, and the confidence and self-belief that I had developed as an elite player. As a player, the coach tells you what you need to do and you respond. However, knowing what to do on the other side as a coach is challenging if you haven’t really coached before. There are certain aspects of my coaching that I need to work on. I find it quite challenging to manage people in terms of the various dynamics and personalities within a team and I would like to be a bit more strategic in how I think. Since putting myself through various courses I now have Advanced level coaching qualifications and now coach quite a few teams at various levels. I believe I am a very caring kind of person where I like to make sure everybody is happy when they come to training. I don’t like conflict and don’t handle conflict very well. This is something I have needed to work on. As a coach, you need to be able to manage conflict in a fair and constructive way. I guess I am just conscious of making sure that players walk away from a session feeling like they’ve learnt something and that it has been worthwhile for them. I really do find coaching quite challenging. I do enjoy teaching and passing on my knowledge to others, but I don’t believe that it comes naturally to me. I’ve always been a bit shy about being in the spotlight, like when I started coaching and working for NASCA coordinating netball carnivals and programs in Dubbo, Cairns and Charlestown, such as the Sharon Finnan Cup and the Koori Netball Knock Out. A lot of attention started drawing my way which was hard for me, as I prefer to stay in the background. But I thought about how I was in a unique position to make a difference for my people, particularly for our young girls and women to aspire to be the best they can be, at whatever they choose to do. I guess the real driving force behind me was to continue to be a role model and leave a legacy. I am pleased that I have been able to connect with Marcia Ella-Duncan who was the first Indigenous woman to play for Australia. We are on the Netball Australia Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group together and both played for the Randwick Netball Association. I think the way she talks about her players has helped to inspire me to be a little bit more passionate about my coaching. Marcia’s a very cultural person as she was raised to know her culture. I grew up in Sydney with hardly any Indigenous people around me. Mum was part of the Stolen Generation so was robbed of learning about our culture and therefore she couldn’t pass on any of that cultural knowledge to me and my brother. Marcia’s very lucky to have that instilled in her from an early age, and I find she connects really well with Indigenous kids when she’s coaching. When I visit Indigenous communities it helps me to connect with culture and increase my cultural knowledge and understanding, and that is always a great learning for me. I would really like to see more Indigenous people taking on coaching roles. I really believe that we need to have more programs to support Indigenous coaches. We need to invest resources into their education and training and provide role models for these
9 Sharon Finnan-White OAM—Netball
coaches and bring them into a learning environment where they feel comfortable and supported. Indigenous people feel comfortable around our own people because we understand the challenges and the barriers that we face. I’d like to see more Indigenous girls playing netball and I believe that if we had more Indigenous coaches, we will see an increase in participation, particularly in those communities where netball may not be as popular. My ultimate goal is to see more Indigenous girls coming through the elite pathway into the Australian team, because the more Indigenous girls we see at that level, the more role models we will have to continue to inspire the next generation. It has been 20 years since I retired from the national team and there are still no Indigenous girls in the Australian Diamonds team, however it’s great to see Jemma Mi-Mi finally in the national squad. Jemma is the only Indigenous player in the Suncorp Super Netball competition. This year (2019), Lisa Alexander—the current Diamonds coach—called for more Indigenous players in the national squad. I commend her on speaking out about this. She is the only national coach to do so. Let’s see if we are still talking about this in another 20 years. I hope not.
Tom Evans—Rugby Union
‘Like if you know there’s Aboriginal people involved in a team, the conversation would go around about, “oh, where’s your mob from?” So, it’s very important that the players know that you value who they are and where they’re from, and connection to Country is extremely important.’ Tom Evans is an Aboriginal man who grew up in Southern Sydney. He has 20 years of rugby union coaching experience at community and high-performance levels. Tom volunteered from 1995 to 1998 and was the Executive Officer with the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team Incorporated from September 1998 to May 2017—an Indigenous organisation that develops the sports skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth by providing scholarships to assist in the sporting aspects of their education. Tom is currently the Manager of Indigenous Programs at University of Technology Sydney Business School.
I grew up in a Southern Sydney suburb called Woronora. You couldn’t get to our place by road. You had to go by boat or walk along the riverbank. I was born out in a place called Lake Cargelligo which was Central West, but I moved when I was quite young with my family. I’ve got an older brother by two-and-a-half years, so there was a group of kids around the area, and we always just played together, like, played sport up and down the strip. I played a lot of rugby league when I was a kid, from when I was five, six, all the way through to, oh, 17, 18, and it was a pretty big part of my life, you know, just like you’re always doing something. Not always organised sport like rugby league, but just the unorganised stuff about getting together, playing touch footy, swimming, kayaking, doing all the stuff around the river that you’d normally do. But yeah, the organised sport was through school and on the weekend was rugby league. And I remember my brother had just got a job working with Glen Ella and I used to go along and watch him play rugby union for Randwick. And one of the best experiences that got me into playing rugby union was I walked into the dressing sheds, and he introduced me to Mark Ella, who was a bit of a hero at the time. And he said, ‘Tom, this is Mark.’ Mark just turned around to me and said, ‘g’day Tom, you look like you’d make a great second rower, why don’t you come down and play?’ © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_10
10 Tom Evans—Rugby Union
That was a bit of a key turning point for me. After that I joined the club and played there for the next 16 years! And then, I think what happened was in 1995 or ‘96, at the end of the year we had just played a lower grade grand final. We won the grand final, and we were getting our awards at the end of the year, and the club coach got up at the time and said, ‘oh, I’m just going to announce who the coaches are for next year.’ I was basically told I was coaching third grade Colts. And I hadn’t retired at the time! I hadn’t told anyone I was retired. It was just the coach who’s made this decision for me. And I went over to Jeff Sayle, who made the announcement, and said, ‘well, that’s great, Jeff, I didn’t even know I was retired, but apparently I am, and I’m coaching Colts!’ Up to that time I’d coached junior football, so I’d coached under 15s and under 16s at Randwick, and I’d helped out there while I was finishing playing at Randwick. So I done that, which I quite enjoyed, and then the club made the decision for me that I should stop playing and I should start coaching. So that’s when I started. I coached rugby and golf, but the only rep football I’ve coached is through the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development team. I coached our junior kids, our under 18s at the nationals, under 16s and under 20s. And then for Randwick, I followed a junior team from 11s, 12s, 13s and 14s, I coached them for four years. And being Aboriginal, it’s definitely shaped who I am, the way in which I coach, because I’m more of a visual coach than written or planned, like putting a plan up on the wall. I don’t do that. I would much prefer to show players a video or a visual demonstration of the way in which it should work. I’m more visual, I’m more active at training, showing how it should be done, than giving them a playbook. That’s a nice little support document, so that people can review that, but I wouldn’t coach at training from a playbook. I’m all about getting a feeling, an understanding of how people are emotionally connected to the training session. Definitely it comes from my background, as my mum’s Aboriginal, my father’s not, but I know for a fact that the way in which I coach I’ve got to have a connection to the player. I’ve got to have emotional connection. And I’ve really got to try and know they’re buying into what we’re doing. It’s very important, like the old saying ‘to see the whites of their eyes’, to understand that the players are connected, and that’s definitely from being Aboriginal, and working visually. Like in rugby union within the Sydney club competition, if it wasn’t for the Pacific Islanders and Maoris and Fijian boys playing rugby in Sydney, there wouldn’t be a rugby competition for anyone. But the vast majority of coaches are white middleaged males, with not much of an understanding of how to connect to those kids, and those people. So I think that being Aboriginal I was able to connect to those guys a little bit more. I could talk to them a little bit more and approach them in a different way. Sometimes I think that we’re missing that within our coaching courses. Like they talk about the psychology of coaching and that, but they just treat players in those coaching courses as a homogenous individual. You know, it’s important that you have discussions within the coaching courses about all that sort of stuff. Like if you know there’s Aboriginal people involved in a team, the conversation would go around about, ‘oh, where’s your mob from?’ So, it’s very important that the players know that you value who they are and where
10 Tom Evans—Rugby Union
they’re from, and connection to Country is extremely important. And that’s something coaches should be aware of, for sure. Up in one area on the Central Coast, one of the non-Indigenous managers got up and one of our kids, one of the Aboriginal kids, asked the manager after he’d been told they were going away to play this game—the kid said, ‘oh, where are we staying?’ And the kid’s obviously Aboriginal, really obviously Black and the manager said, ‘oh we’re staying in tents. You should be used to that, shouldn’t you?’ So, we bought the integrity unit in, and they addressed it. The manager sort of didn’t realise what he’d said was so offensive, and racist. Anyway, it’s all been resolved. I’ve spoken to the parent since, I’ve spoken to the kid, and everyone concerned, and it’s been resolved, but you know, these things are offensive. The coach knew he was Aboriginal, but he thought he was being funny—but the kid’s 15, and took great offence to it. So I think, yeah, we should be dealing with that within the coaching courses, there should be some stuff there. But it’s got to be dealt with in the right way, it just can’t be sort of put in there as two lines and someone just delivers it. It has to have a meaningful sort of part within the program and delivered by someone who can speak on that just like you’d get someone who’s going to do an attack coaching course. You want someone who knows something about attack coaching, you just don’t get someone to get there and read off a piece of paper. If it’s someone who’s delivering something about cultural competence for Aboriginal people, well then it has to be someone who has that sort of cultural background, an Aboriginal person who can deliver that. It needs to be delivered by an appropriate Aboriginal person. We should also be trying to develop a package that relates to our females. Our females need to be able to get access to coaching, Aboriginal females. A lot of our female athletes have families, have kids, and they’re the primary caregivers, so trying to work modules around how we can better deliver to them. And if they exist, they’re not being promoted well enough, because we don’t know about it. Because we’ve got to create a critical mass to create that critical mass of people that want to coach. But I’ll tell you one thing that is better now, there’s a greater understanding amongst non-Aboriginal people about the position Aboriginal people have in sport and there’s a lot more acceptance of Aboriginal people today than back in 1980, when I first started at Randwick. I think that’s because there’s more of a general conversation in the media about what’s racism, and what’s not racism. Like, there’s the guy that I played with, and also was coached by, that was gay, and he was with a partner at the time when he was playing, coaching at Randwick. And he’s still with that same partner. They live in New Zealand now, he’s openly gay now, but when he was playing, he couldn’t be. So I think society’s changed a lot that way, for those social issues. I think people are more—there’s a greater conversation, there’s a lot more information, and people are a lot more aware. I’m not saying they’re better educated about it, but they are a lot more aware of the issues, they’re spoken about more. And I think the younger generation coming through, like I’d say people under 30 are a lot more understanding and a lot more aware of Indigenous issues than the over 30s. I think there’s people under 30 that are a lot more worldly when it comes to that, if you know what I mean, so, those things make it easier to coach.
10 Tom Evans—Rugby Union
Like I can go back to Nicky Winmar in 1993, when he lifted up his shirt and pointed at his skin. It just made me feel better about myself, you know, like there are these guys who are willing to be on a stage and stand up in front of those Collingwood supporters. And he goes, ‘this is who I am, I’m still the same person here, I’m still Black,’ those are the sorts of things that are really important. And watching guys in rugby league, and watching the Ella brothers and that, back in the day play, you know, roundabout ‘93, there’s like an awareness or Aboriginal awareness within sport, to stand up against racism. I think that was a good thing and that sort of gave me a little bit more, a better feeling about going into coaching. If I was to look back on things, I’d say that there’s a lot more Aboriginal coaches coming into the game, where I know players that are moving into the coaching ranks. It’s fantastic. The big letdown at the moment is the administration of the sport. At the highest level, like at New South Wales, like State union, and National union—the ARU—there’s no diversity in the decision makers, there are still middle-aged white Anglo Saxons males. And I think that’s going to take a long time to change. I just don’t think the sport values colour. I don’t think it values the role Aboriginal people can bring to it. And when Aboriginal people present themselves and do really well, there’s always a reason why they’re not selected to move forward. There’s always a reason. I think with Aboriginal people, all we need to know is that, we want them in the game. But I think at the moment there’s a belief amongst Blackfellas, amongst Aboriginal people, that they’re not wanted. So we’ve got to get a message to our kids and the community that they’re wanted, they’re valued, and they’re encouraged. I think that should be the spearhead of any sort of desire, to try and get that message to people involved in the game, at whichever level, is that you are valued, and we want you involved.
‘If Basketball Australia, as part of their Reconciliation Action Plan, highlighted the need more Aboriginal coaches, then all of a sudden I start getting called to apply for coaching jobs and fast tracked through the system, I would feel weird about that. Because is this merit based? Or you’re just trying to tick a box?’ Darren is a descendant of the Gudjala people and was born is Sale, Victoria. He has coached basketball for over 25 years and was AFL Queensland’s State Indigenous and Multicultural Engagement Manager. Darren was also an assistant coach at the Sydney University Flames Women’s National Basketball League for eight years, has coached NSW and QLD State basketball teams, representative and State League basketball teams, as well as NSW Indigenous U15 AFL Kickstart teams.
I’ve been involved in sport my whole life. My mum and dad were in the Airforce, so we moved around a lot. Sport was one of the first things we got involved in, everywhere we went, because it was a great way to meet people and make new friends. It helped to build a peer group. Mum and dad were also into sport. They were both basketball players and coaches, so just going and watching them play we started getting involved with basketball at a young age. Little athletics was another sport that we got into everywhere we went. AFL and basketball were the first team sports I played and as I got a little bit older, I tried rugby league and golf. I’ve had nothing but a positive experience through sport. I really enjoyed it and it helped being a pretty strong athlete when I was younger, so I had no issues making teams. I think sport’s crucial. I think the amount of life skills that you learn through sport, both implicitly and explicitly, have helped me significantly in life. Things like communication, teamwork, time management, self-reflection, and persistence. Learning to juggle your school work with training and playing commitments is not an easy thing. I also think discipline, having someone else kick your backside and hold you accountable that’s not your mum or your dad. Especially these days in coaching, the role that the coach has to empower athletes and to be able to instil some of those values in the kids, I think is crucial. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_11
11 Darren Allie—Basketball/AFL
I’ve been coaching for about 28 years now. I went away with my first state team as an assistant coach when I was 19 for Basketball and ever since then I’ve been actively involved. I’ve coached at all levels from grassroots all the way up to National League. I’ve worked as a development officer in primary schools, teaching all kinds of sports. I’ve coached at State level on and off for 15 years and have coached at national league level in the WNBL with the Sydney Uni Flames women’s basketball team. I’ve only had two years off in that time and I’ve had the pleasure of actually having jobs where coaching was part of my job. I’ve had great opportunities and have not been hindered in any way in coaching—skin colour or cultural background has not come into it at all. My Aboriginality has never been an issue. In fact it’s given me more opportunities to do different things. My parents did everything they could to provide us with access to opportunities. We did pretty well and my parents worked very hard for that. Dad was in the Airforce. We travelled a lot and by no means were we disadvantaged in any way. I see the impact sport can have. I’ve worked in remote communities and seen the power that sport in can have in bring people together. I’ve never had an issue where I couldn’t play any sport or do anything at any time. You know, we’re very lucky we can do that, in metropolitan Australia but, the challenges are significantly different the more remote you go. I think sport is a fantastic way of bringing different cultures together. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you’re good, people tend like you. I had some friends who used to say some racist things at school towards me and call me names. But when we got on the sporting field and scored a try it all went away. They didn’t care, they just wanted to win. I’ve never applied for identified Aboriginal coaching jobs. I think your opportunities increase as a coach if you’ve had mainstream experience. If you’ve shown that you can coach in a mainstream system and have been successful, then when an Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander coaching roles come up, they will ask you to apply. But if you’ve been coaching an Indigenous National junior team or the Indigenous State team, it’s harder to jump into a mainstream roles because NSO and SSO’s don’t value it the same. I saw the same themes coaching women’s sport at elite level. It doesn’t matter how successful you are as a women’s coach, the perception is that the men’s game is of a higher standard, hence you don’t have the skills to transition across. Conversely though, a men’s coach has no barriers in applying for roles in the women’s game. I have seen the same with employment. If you pigeon hole yourself in identified roles and try and come across to mainstream it’s very hard, but if you’re in mainstream and want to transition to Aboriginal role, it’s a lot easier because the perception is identified roles as ‘easy’ and they believe that the mainstream system is harder and more demanding. I’ve worked in mainstream for 95% of my career, so it hasn’t been an issue, but I’ve seen several staff try to come from Aboriginal roles across to mainstream, and they get, ‘aw, I think you are more suited to our Aboriginal programs.’ The organisations I’ve worked with when I first started coaching didn’t have Reconciliation Action Plans (RAP). They didn’t need to tick boxes with coach
11 Darren Allie—Basketball/AFL
numbers. Now it’s different most NSO’s do. If Basketball Australia, as part of their Reconciliation Action Plan, highlighted the need more Aboriginal coaches, then all of a sudden I start getting called to apply for coaching jobs and fast tracked through the system, I would feel weird about that. Because is this merit based? Or you’re just trying to tick a box? That could undermine your talent, because people would think ‘Aw, you only got that because they have RAP, trying to tick a box, and get someone in the position.’ I don’t think my cultural background had anything to do with me going into coaching. I just found a love of teaching people. I just really enjoyed explaining how to play the game and I had a really good rapport. I could relate to young people. And because I was a good player, I gained their respect a lot quicker. In terms of developing a coaching career, it’s all about people. It’s all about who you know. I had a contact at a basketball association, a person and mentor who believed in me. He left the club. But I had established myself as a coach, and then another person gave me an opportunity at another association, so I went there. So it’s all about opportunity and how prepared you are to make the most of that opportunity. It’s finding someone that likes what you do, and gives you a chance to do it and support your through it.
Danny Allende—Rugby League
‘So I suppose forever and a day I’ve been alone, and I’ve had to work hard to fight, and that’s what drove me.’ Danny Allende is a proud Wiradjuri and Gomeroi man who grew up on Gadigal land in Redfern, Sydney. In 2018, he was appointed as the head coach of South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League team in the inaugural New South Wales (NSW) Women’s Premiership. Previously, he coached the Redfern All Black’s women’s team to the 2017 NSW Women’s Rugby League Premiership and was named coach of the year by the NSW Rugby League. Danny was also the Assistant Coach of the NSW women’s State of Origin women’s team, and coach of the winning Women’s NSW Koori Knockout team. He has coached community and representative level touch football, Oztag, basketball, and representative Indigenous rugby league teams throughout his coaching career.
I’m a proud Wiradjuri and Gomeroi man but born and bred on Gadigal land in Redfern and Waterloo. I spent the first 20 years roaming the streets of Redfern, Surry Hills, Waterloo and Woolloomooloo. And I suppose when I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, whenever there was a game of football on, there would be a gathering of boys, 10 or so and we’d go and play against one another on the street. So growing up on the streets was a good thing for me because we got to play everything, you know, do everything. I suppose my first initial upbringing is that my mum, dad and my uncle always played sport, and so did their parents, so it was a sporting household. They were forever going to touch football, when it first started, and my dad and uncle played first grade and reserve grade for Souths. Living two streets back behind Redfern didn’t leave you much choice but to go for Souths, and so you aspired to play for Souths. But I was a bit of a jack of all trades and master of none. I went to Randwick Boys and that was a big union school and was privileged enough to play First XV in year 12. I think I got Junior and Senior Sportsman of the Year, played every sport that I was allowed to. I was fortunate to play basketball. I think I started playing when I was about eight, and at 12, I made my first rep side and I got right up to the under 21 squad, PYL as they called it back in the day, and the next step was the Sydney © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_12
12 Danny Allende—Rugby League
Kings. I suppose I was next in line to sign a contract but running parallel to that I was playing football for local clubs like Rovers and Zetland and they had really big names in my age group, guys that went on to play for Australia. I went and trialled for Souths. I played 21s and reserves in 1993 and left basketball completely. I don’t know why. I loved basketball but I was always interested in being with the boys and wanting to play football. But I sort of missed the boat and then I had a kid in ‘95 and basically never played football again. When I got married, I moved out to La Perouse and took up coaching. I was about 23, 24, I think. I’m still considered a La Pa person now because I’ve been part of the La Perouse community, but I’m not from La Pa and it’s very important that you get those two distinctions right because they get a bit upset if they say you’re from La Pa and you’re not. So I met my wife and had four kids and obviously, as a young kid I knew nothing different, and so they started playing sport. I got forced to coach because there were parents who couldn’t coach or didn’t have enough time and you just put your hand up at that local level. So I’ve coached everything from touch football to Oztag to league, basketball. Anything with a ball, I’ll give it a crack. Cricket’s another one. I used to umpire, when the kids were playing for hours, umpiring. I hated it. Sitting there underneath a tree coaching cricket and umpiring it! I think with me coaching-wise I got as far as the SG Ball under 18s team for Souths as the assistant coach and I was the assistant coach for New South Wales Indigenous side under 16’s boys. I coached the under 18’s as well; we went away on a tour to Europe and Harmony Cup, and then I’ve coached like A grade for eight years straight out at La Perouse where we reached the grand final every year. Right now, I’m coaching the New South Wales Aboriginal Women’s Team. We’ll play Queensland at the end of the month. Even when I was younger, I used to go out and watch the Kings play and see my uncle coach. I used to wipe the sweat off the floor and do all that sort of stuff. So I suppose coaching’s always been part of my life. I think one of the reasons I got involved was as back filler. I mean, I’m still to this day hurting that I didn’t go on further, that I didn’t go on and play first grade or didn’t play in the NBL. I think deep down inside I was good enough, but I didn’t have the drive and that commitment. One of the first-grade coaches back in the day, I think it was Jack Gibson said, ‘There’s plenty of great first grade footballers at the bar.’ And so I was probably one of them, that could have, should have, but didn’t do it. So I try and make sure that when I coach that they get the maximum out of their ability and they don’t look back with any regret. And if you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, but don’t regret it because you didn’t believe in yourself. I’ve always worked hard too. My parents were always working, so I suppose that’s the other thing too, whilst you might not have gone on to represent at the highest level, I still was pretty level-headed and grounded enough to know that I had to work hard and provide for my family, so that was the alternative. And I think that’s why I’d never be a great coach at the top. In order to keep going further you’ve really got to be a little bit selfish in some ways, and take a lot of time to yourself, but when you’ve got four kids … you know my eldest now is turning 21, and the youngest one’s 11 and I wanted to be a good a good dad.
12 Danny Allende—Rugby League
Yesterday, I left work at five, raced over to training, I’m there till 6:30 with the girls making sure they’re doing it in the indoor section, you’re going home, I’m cooking dinner, I’m making sure the kids are fine, looking after them. Nine I’m in the shower, ready to get up at six. So that would be a normal routine for any coach, and if you’re doing it three times a week and then you’ve got playing on the weekend, and you’re looking after your family and you’re working, mate … But I think it creates a bit of drive. You can’t have everything at your feet; you have to do it tough in order to get somewhere, so I’d hate to see it sanitised in some way where, ‘Jeez, you know, I’m working, it’s nice and relaxed here. I’ve got everything at my feet, and I can just coach.’ I mean that’s not the reality out there when you compete. I think you still need to have that inner drive and that hunger. That’s just me. I’ve never had anything growing up in Redfern or La Perouse. My culture has probably come into the way I coach too. We care for our mob, care for our families. We think of family first, so I tend to think about my team first and their parents and their families and so I’ve got a bit more understanding. I suppose an example would be, I’m coaching two Tongan kids, their auntie passed away and they were gone for three weeks. They were going to sack them. I said, ‘What for? In their culture they have to take two weeks off when there’s a funeral.’ ‘Oh, so? (Laughs).’ ‘What do you mean “so”? They’ve had to fly over to Tonga, they’ve stayed for two weeks. By the time they get back … That’s just part of their culture and you have to understand that.’ So I suppose a bit of that understanding has come in because of the way I coach. But it can be hard sometimes with our mob. A lot of times you’re coaching either a nephew or a niece or a cousin and if you don’t pick them or you’ve said something that might be taken out of context, they could be against you. That happens regularly, so there’s that constant battle that you’re fighting. And I know it’s going to happen in two weeks’ time when some of the girls don’t get picked. My daughter’s actually in the team. I’m not selecting them, I’m just there to coach, but I know if she gets picked, and she’s already been picked last year, there’s going to be some negative, ‘Oh well your father’s there.’ That’s our mob sometimes. We can hurt ourselves because there is that element of distrust. So you have to be thick skinned and back yourself because at the end of the day when you coach it’s on you. So if you’re winning everything you can take the accolade, but when you’re losing … so you’ve got to do it on your own terms. So those are the things I’d say to a new coach, ‘You’re going to get criticised, you’re going to have to take the criticism, you’re going to have to work with those sorts of people, don’t take it personally, just back yourself.’ And I’d say, ‘if you really want to be a coach, I’d be hanging around good positive people. No good getting advice off Old Mate who’s on the piss every night at the pub who could have been a good coach but wasn’t and he’s a know-it-all.’ And they’re in every community, in every facet of life, and they’ll be quite critical of you. ‘You should be doing this, and you should be doing that’, but they haven’t done it themselves. So you’ve got to have a safe environment and be around positive people. And I suppose if I look back now, I’ve been lucky. Coming through I didn’t have much support. Back when I was starting to coach there were no Aboriginal coaches
12 Danny Allende—Rugby League
and in basketball there were very rarely any Aboriginal coaches. I went to Randwick Boys High and there was 980 students and one Aboriginal student and that was me. My uncle was coaching, but he was doing his own thing and my dad was a wharfie and he was always working. So I suppose forever and a day I’ve been alone, and I’ve had to work hard to fight, and that’s what drove me. I always got support from the inner sanctum of my own family. My wife at the time, Trudy, she was a brilliant athlete herself and she had kids early and didn’t realise her potential either, but she said, ‘Yeah, no worries. Go and coach. I know you love kids, love people, go.’ And I think without it, I don’t know what I’d be doing. How boring is it not playing sport or coaching or being involved in it? What am I proud of from a coaching perspective? How would I like to be remembered? Always approachable, caring for the player first and foremost to get the best out of them. I felt that if I did that, I’d get the best out of them and then the rest would come naturally.
My dream is to be the first Indigenous Australian Diamonds Netball coach, and I want speak in my Kamilaroi language when doing my first media interview in the role. Ali Tucker-Munro is a Kamilaroi woman and an elite netballer who played over 100 games in the National Professional Netball League between 1997 and 2005. She represented Australia in the National under 21 team that won gold at the Netball World Youth Cup and was a squad member of the Australian National Netball team in 2012. Ali holds an Elite Netball Coaching Accreditation, is the current NSW U/19 Netball Team’s assistant coach, and assistant coach of the Giants Netball Academy. She is a committee member to the Netball Australia Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and works for the Federal Government.
I’m a very proud Aboriginal woman. My mob are Kamilaroi, and my family predominantly are based in Moree. That’s where my mother comes from. My mum was 16 when she got on the train and moved to Sydney, where she lived with family that included my auntie and great-auntie. There was a big family group of Moree people living in Sydney at the time. It was one thing that a lot of Aboriginal people living in regional centres did back in the day—jump on the train and head to Sydney. Mum met Dad in Sydney and they lived in and around the inner west, not far from Redfern, which was a real hub and meeting place back in the day, as was La Perouse. I went to preschool in Murawina which was down at the Block, in Redfern As kids, we were in and amongst the Redfern Aboriginal community, being involved with community events, like the local sports/athletics carnival, as well as the annual Christmas party in the park, we’d all get together and compete against each other in running races, and get little trophies. And then of course, because my Aunties were down here in Sydney as well, I grew up with my cousins. So that kinship family group was really strong when I was a kid. I had cousins who were roughly my age living with us at the time, and I was the only girl amongst the boys. So I had no choice but to be a bit of a tomboy. I do think that because of the competitive nature I had and that drive to not get beaten by the boys in my family when playing games,
© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_13
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball
that it really galvanised me as an athlete when I was older—that determination to win. I got into playing netball by default, to be honest. My older sister started playing and so she’d often practice in the back yard, using me as her practice partner. Because I idolised my sister, which I still do, I wanted to be just like her and play netball as well. So when her team had two injured players, I begged my mother to fill in and play for her team. She said no, I was too young, but my mum said, ‘Look, I’ll put you in next year.’ I’m the second eldest of five children, and so when I did start to play at 8 years old, it probably gave mum some peace to have me out of the house playing sport. But as my little sister was born five years after me, there was a lot of reliance on the other parents within the netball team to pick me up to go to training. They had to go past my house anyway, so I’d just stand out on the roadside and wait for them to pick me on the way through, which was the same when we had to go and play the game on a Saturday. I was a really shy kid, and I’m still quite shy now, but I remember going to training and just loving it. I found that when I was at netball, not only did it just came naturally to me, but being in that environment, the shyness just fell away. I was comfortable in having a bit of a giggle and a laugh whilst the game also fed my competitive spirit, but yeah, I did really well, and made my first junior rep team with the Sutherland Shire Association. I made other rep teams over the years and then was the last ever NSW State Open’s team captain before they abolished the National Championships and went to the ANL (Australian Netball League) competition. I went all the way up to the Australian under 21 s netball team, where we went to the World Youth Cup and won a gold medal. That was an amazing experience. But a real personal highlight for me was making the Australian Diamonds Squad after I had my first child. At the time, a lot of people had thought my career as a netballer was over at 23 years old because I’d had a baby. But it really centred and focused me as I was determined to prove the naysayers wrong. I remember just think that as a young Aboriginal mother, I could still chase my dreams. And that is a really important point. I do reflect on being a young mum and the challenges to keep playing elite sport as female. I do think that this could be another reason why our girls also drop out of our sport, as a lot of our girls do have babies young. But that shouldn’t mean they give up on their dreams. I think putting support mechanisms in place, having people around supporting you, and giving you opportunities to keep playing is vital. Particularly in regional communities where it’s all very male-focused around football and fishing and dirt bike riding. Well, what about the girls? What’s there for the girls? How can we do better as a sport to keep our girls in our sport? It’s why I do what I do—it’s about the girls in our communities. I also think a lot of Aboriginal women and girls involved in sports, I think we do face additional challenges and circumstances which are very different to the boys. I had family obligations and caring responsibilities growing up, and having to help out my mum at home, cooking, looking after my siblings, and other family members. So I do think we have a whole range of different expectations on us as we try and navigate the elite sporting world. I know I did. I know my cousins did as well.
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball
I did retire after my eldest child started kindy, and I didn’t go near the game for a good couple of years, just because I had dedicated so much of my life to the sport. I did try to come back and play, just at the State League level, for a bit, but I had another two other children within 12 months of each other at the time and balancing three kids was really challenging. After several years away from the sport, and out of the blue, Marcia Ella-Duncan rang me and said, ‘Look, I need some help with my defenders in my team. Would you be keen to come out and have a look at them? Do a couple of drills? No promises, just come and do maybe two sessions, that’s it.’ ‘Yeah. Sure. No worries’, I said. I was a bit worried whether I’d be any good, but I think to myself, in hindsight looking back at my strengths as a player, I could read the game pretty well. Particularly in the position that I played which was goal keeper—the last line of defence. In that position I can see the plays unfolding. I would read and recognise opposition set plays and call them in real time to my teammates, and that just came naturally to me. So I thought ‘I can do this’. Anyway, if you know me, you know it’s hard to get me off the netball court, so next thing you know I’m actually playing and coaching, which was a challenge! And I had that moment of recognising and making peace with the fact that whilst the mind is willing the body is just not there anymore, so I recognised that I really had to take a step back from playing. And Marcia was like, ‘Well, just stay on the bench with me and we’ll just do this together.’ I went, ‘Yeah. Cool. No worries, as long as you know I’ve got young kids.’ She was flexible, no dramas. And that was it. I literally fell into coaching by default. What started as a couple of sessions has now turned into 10 years of coaching, so I was really blessed to work with Marcia. Ironically, I didn’t have a strong connection with Marcia whilst I was playing at the elite level; probably because we were just in different places in life at the time. But getting to know Marcia after I retired, I said to her, ‘you know in hindsight, if had had a connection with you whilst I was playing, I would have kept playing because I would have had somebody in my corner as a mentor.’ This is something that I feel strongly about to this day. I do think that a mentor would help make a difference for a lot of our girls in the High Performance pathway—an Aboriginal mentor that you can bounce things off but in a culturally safe space. I think Marcia and I coached together for about four, five years out at the Randwick Netball Association. And then she had to take a step back for work reasons and so I’d stepped into being the head coach of Randwick’s Metro League Team One. And I loved it! But I do remember my first year in that role as coach of their top Opens team, I took the time to reflect on my own journey as a player and thought what kind of coach do I want to be? So sitting down at my dining table I’m thinking, ‘first, what is my philosophy as a coach?’ And then I wrote a bit of a philosophy statement to myself. Interestingly one of my philosophies is to never coach the instinct out of a player. I think that’s borne out of the fact that as an Aboriginal player, I use to play on instinct, and that’s okay. That’s what makes people great, that’s what makes them special as an athlete, that’s what makes our girls great athletes. And yet I had
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball
coaches—and still see coaches—trying to have players change, to conform, to be like everyone else in the team. And it causes friction. I experienced it as a player, and I’ve seen a lot of our kids walking away from our sport because of it. The type of coach I want to be is really shaped by my experiences both within my family and community, and as an Aboriginal athlete navigating my way in a sport where we are so underrepresented at the elite level. I try to be inclusive and coach really holistically when dealing with athletes. So what does that mean? I think it’s important to take the time to respect and understand your team; get to know what makes them tick—understand where they come from. This means as a coach I am holistic and inclusive when dealing with athletes. I want to connect, hear, listen and reflect on what people think, want, and say. I also recognise as a coach I know it’s not just about the sport, it’s about understanding each other as people. It’s that collective, communal way of making sure everyone’s ok—just like we do in my family. Another thing important to me is making connections with not just the athlete but their family as well. When I was really young, I was blessed to have a really good coach who was Maori. She intuitively connected with me as an athlete, the way she spoke and engaged not just with me, but particularly my mother. They had a really good rapport, probably because on some level they had a shared sense of experiences in life being First Nations people. Terri McCormack was her name and I just loved Terri. She was my first really inspiring coach that influenced me at a young impressionable age. She just had a really pivotal role in my journey as a young athlete, and very much influences me as a coach. Marg Angove was another one of my coaches who really resonated with me when I was a teenager and transitioning into the elite/high performance environment. If I didn’t have her as a coach at that critical point when I was transitioning into an elite athlete, I probably would have walked away from the sport. Marg was the type of coach that had a really good personality and very strong people skills. And my mother, as an Aboriginal woman, would be really uncomfortable and shy away from big crowds and post-game events at home games. We’d often have these functions after games with the sponsors and so on, and she’d be either hiding out in the back corner of the room, or more often wouldn’t even come into the room. And Marg always made it a point to find my mother. She would go searching for her to talk to her. Throughout my playing career, and importantly when I was young, there was only a few other coaches who ever did that with my mum. She understood the importance in our culture of connecting with family and making time to go and have a chat. Most coaches wouldn’t do that, or even recognise the significance and importance of doing that with Aboriginal players. I’m also a big believer in making sure that there’s support available to Aboriginal players in the HP (High Performance) pathway. I think that support systems—consistent support systems—are really important, as I know it would have really made a difference in my journey as an Aboriginal athlete. The times when I had support structures around me, it was great, but when I didn’t have them, I noticed it, and it affected me. Have I experienced racism in my sport? Yes. And it hurts. It cuts you to the core and diminishes, devalues and dismisses the work I’ve done to get to where
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball
I am as a player and a coach. But I reflect on the fact that our Elders had it far worse than I ever will, so that’s what I go back to, and what keeps me going. I’ve also experienced times of being frustrated when dealing with people with no cultural awareness or understanding. For instance, when I was in the Australian Squad and we had a camp planned, one of my cousins passed away and I decided not to go because his funeral was on. And it was hard for the coaching staff to understand the cultural importance and expectations of me going because, you know, you’re representing your family, not just yourself, when you go to attend Sorry Business events in your community. And yes, I do think that choice impacted perceptions of me as a player. This a really key point. Embedding an understanding and awareness of our culture into our sport is really important. Look at New Zealand and the Silver Ferns, they just weave the Maori culture straight into their whole way of thinking and mindset. We don’t do that here and our sport is the poorer for it. Listening to the Silver ferns coach speak in her traditional language is inspiring. My dream is to be the first Indigenous Australian Diamonds Netball coach, and I want speak in my Kamilaroi language when doing my first media interview in the role. That might surprise people in the Australian netball community. For me personally, I hate when I hear people saying that our languages are extinct. My language is not extinct. It’s being revitalised. And I think it’s a really important piece in terms of cultural identity. We need to embed First Nations culture into sport and our language should be recognised and celebrated. And things like an Indigenous Round, explaining why it’s important for our community, it’s where you start to have conversations with players and sport administrators about why these types of events are important. People have come up to me, had a yarn and talked about stuff, and sometimes it is just about having that conversation starter, and breaking down some of those perceptions or generalisations people have of our communities. I do make the most of those opportunities to talk to people about making sure that we’re seeding the pathway in terms of selectors, coaches, and the administrators being culturally competent. That’s why the RAP Working Group, the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group that I’ve been involved in with Netball NSW and Netball Australia is important to me. But our sport does need to commit to making these changes more visible. From the top down. Providing support or programs to our players, coaches etc., it has to be genuine and not an add-on, it’s not a gimmick. I don’t want it to be reliant on funding for a set year, and that’s what I’m really conscious of. It can’t be tokenistic either but that will take a real shift in thinking by our member organisations. Even the work with the coaching clinics and stuff that I am involved in, that’s really important as it helps seed the next group of Aboriginal coaches wanting to be appointed for rep teams. They are almost like change agents in their own community, breaking down stereotypes and perceptions of Aboriginal people. Our Aboriginal coaches are doing some awesome stuff out there, and it could be the first time some of these non-Indigenous parents have ever actually engaged with an Aboriginal person, and this person’s actually coaching their kid! So that’s a real positive win-win for me.
13 Ali Tucker-Munro—Netball
I also recognise being in the Netball NSW HP coaching pathway is really important to my family. They are proud of me. But being afforded these opportunities only drives me more as I’m not seeing many Aboriginal players in the Netball NSW HP pathway—yet. That’s why I continue to have specific and personal interest in Aboriginal kids trying to navigate their way on the High Performance pathway. Having the right support systems and mechanisms in place to support our girls, such as providing a mentor, encouraging opportunities for our girls in the HP pathway to connect with each other as a means to share and support one another, connecting with family and communities in a culturally appropriate way … these I think are all really important as well as that commitment to build support systems. Have the organisations or associations provided any cultural awareness training? And also, has the team that’s going to be directly involved with Aboriginal kids—the coach, the manager—are they culturally competent to communicate and engage effectively and get the best out of that child? Because that’s what the best coaches do. My nan use to say to me all the time as a little girl, ‘never forget where you come from’ and ‘always give back to your mob’. Her words galvanise me to keep advocating for change within our great sport for our Aboriginal players and coaches. I hope I’m doing her proud.
‘As a coach, I think that the mainstream could learn a great deal in how we coach in Indigenous sport. I’m lucky enough to have been on both sides of the fence and I tell you what, I take a lot more of Indigenous philosophy in how I coach within the mainstream than the other way.’ Jeff Cook is a Kamilaroi man whose mob was from the Attunga Tamworth region. He progressed from a professional cricketing career in England to become level 3 Cricket Australia coach who has coached or been involved with a range of Sydney Grade cricket clubs and junior/senior Country representative cricket sides. Jeff is the current Indigenous NSW and Australian men’s cricket coach as well as the Sydney Thunder Indigenous team coach.
Yeah it’s Kamilaroi, which is quite a vast area, our mob was around the Attunga Tamworth region. And I found out very late in life, that I was Indigenous. I found out from my father when I moved to Tamworth with my family after being in the UK. So I investigated a little bit further with it, and met some relatives, who I didn’t know I had. And my interest evolved from there because of the fact I joined the local Land Council. I never knew about my Indigenous heritage due to me not speaking to my father for close to 30 years. And then we connected, when he showed me a picture of his great-grandfather, and he was happened to be Indigenous. Then I got the story of how it happened, even though I dare say the vast majority of my family on my father’s side refuse to recognise their Indigenous heritage to this day. I think it’s more due to that generation of that time. I kind of evolved with it and wanted to find out more. The kids are now doing the same thing and they’re involved in Indigenous activity groups at school. So it’s been an exciting journey so far. I grew up in Sydney with a single mum, so times were tough, as it was for most single parent families in the 70s/80s. There wasn’t a lot of money going around as you could imagine. Being a single mum on welfare wasn’t too good, we just managed to get by basically. Sport was a bit of refuge. I got into a bit of trouble at school and everything else, but the one thing I had was a bit of talent in sport. I wasn’t a great © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_14
14 Jeff Cook—Cricket
student because of the fact that I didn’t really put a lot of effort in, and it was all about cricket. I wanted to be a cricket player, or a soccer player at that time, but mainly cricket. And I guess I was searching for something I was good at, and I’d kind of found it. So sport got me out of the ways of either going left or right in regards to my path in life. I went right into sport and it all worked out, rather than the other way—probably into jail. So in the summer it was cricket, and in the winter, it was soccer. In the area where I lived in Sydney, it was very much a Yugoslavian and Greek neighbourhood. So soccer was the big sport in the winter. I got into that probably more to just fit in. It was one of the best things I did. They all didn’t play cricket in the summer so I was accepted as, ‘well we won’t see him in the summer but at least we will see him in the winter.’ It was a really good but tough area to grow up in because you learnt about different cultures. You learned about racism as well, and about being accepted. I loved the area due to the fact that it was all very exciting. Every Sunday the Macedonians would have a barbecue in the street, and everybody would go to that particular house. They are very family orientated people—which I didn’t have growing up—and community based. I had a single mother and I guess I needed a bit of a father figure as well because he left when I was probably eight or nine. So it gave me a little bit of a concept of family and family values, as well as different culture, and different ethnic backgrounds. Looking back now, I wish my kids had a bit of a taste of that. So yeah, that was pretty much my growing up. I do remember the first day of high school in year seven where we had cricket trials, and the coach of the cricket team had already heard I played a pretty decent standard of cricket. So he made me pick the team on that day. There were around 40–60 kids trying out for 20 spots and I was the chief selector. All of the kids that didn’t get selected, didn’t talk to me for four years after that! So that was a bit of an eye-opener on self-belief and being independent because of the fact that I had been thrown into this gauntlet and I had to select the two school cricket teams by myself. The coach sat under the tree distancing himself, and I got the blame for the guys who didn’t get selected! I was a St. George junior player, playing under 16s for St. George, which is the first stage into grade club cricket. I was chosen in 1st grade at 16 and was playing alongside International and State players. I’d just be in awe and just sit there and just watch and learn. In ‘93, I got asked by St. George if I wanted to go to England and play some league cricket in and around Manchester. The thought was it would develop my game. I had just played under 17s and under 19s for NSW and I was asked to go to the cricket academy in Adelaide, the Australian Cricket Academy, but with work I couldn’t go as I was pretty much the breadwinner of our family. Looking back, guys like Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, and Greg Blewett went, and I had to knock it back because of work. And I sort of felt that was a detriment to going forward. Then the playing in England arose and they said ‘listen, would you like to go over there and grow up a bit?’ I mean it was my first time out of Australia, it was my first-time moving out of home, so I jumped at the opportunity, got the time off work at Australia Post and away I went in ‘93 and met my now wife of 21 years!
14 Jeff Cook—Cricket
I was thrown into it at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club. I was coming to the end of a career as a professional and they asked me if I wanted to captain the second eleven, which was always younger players or trialists. Our coach at the time was very despondent because he got overlooked as the first team coach and lost interest and I think he was just looking for a way out. And he said to me ‘Look, when we get to Lancashire, why don’t you captain and coach the team and I’ll be the assistant coach?’ And I thought ‘Oh, OK’ and really enjoyed it. He actually walked up to me and said, ‘you’re made for this, you speak to the players well, especially the trialists who have got a lot of pressure on them trying to be professional players.’ It is very cutthroat, and I found myself more as a mentor than a coach, players coming to my room and talking about cricket and talking about anxiety and nerves and technical aspects, whatever it may be. That was one thing that I think is a strength with my coaching, the man-management side of it. I did my accreditation badges over in England, getting to Level 2 which I found pretty enjoyable, but it was in the winter and it was freezing! Then everything finished in England, so we moved to Tamworth. I look at coaching as 80% man management. If you can get a player, a kid, who’s happy and enjoys turning up to training on a Tuesday and Thursday and a match on Saturday, he’s going to learn. In my experience with that first ever coach, I guess he took an interest in me. He spent a lot of one to one time with me. And it wasn’t all about bats and balls it, it was about ‘How’s school?’ and ‘Cricket is a make and break, you need something out of school.’ So I look at my coaching now and, and in fact, I’ve got a young kid in my Indigenous program, well not young, he’s 18 now, who was going down the same path as I did, where school was second, cricket was first: ‘I want to play for Australia and that’s it. I have no other plans.’ I probably spent a lot more time with this young player now, like we’ve got him to do his HSC (Higher School Certificate), which he’s finishing now, but if someone would have told me 12 months ago this kid would’ve finished HSC, I would not have believed them! Many Indigenous people are a closed shop and sometimes it is very hard to extract from them. I think that’s down to the fact of trust, that’s the big word. Once they’ve got your trust, they trust you for life and that’s how I look at it. And I share my experiences with them, it’s not just one way, I’m happy to say, ‘Hey, I struggled in this area when I was coming through, and I needed some help here and there.’ I learnt that through Indigenous coaching, where it’s not all about bats and balls. There’s something else I’ve learnt as a cricket coach—I had to listen to them. I think the Indigenous space is very different to other high-performance coaching I’ve seen. I think the Indigenous space is about listening and trust and helping in any way. Cricket’s a bit of a seconder at times. I’ve taken quite a few high-performance coaches up to Alice Springs for the National Indigenous Cricket Championships where they say, ‘you’re more of a social worker than a cricket coach here.’ And they get a little bit more rounded themselves and, in their coaching, to take back their professional environment and teams. But there are a lot of people who don’t see me as being Indigenous. I don’t look Indigenous, well in a lot of ways. I think the nose might give it away! I think they just look and say, ‘gee I didn’t know that he was Indigenous.’ There’s always those questions, but I don’t see it as too much of an issue. I think it actually works as
14 Jeff Cook—Cricket
a positive, for me anyway, that I’m not just the Black coach who does Indigenous cricket. I’m the coach who has actually opened his entire career out. And it does help that I’ve played at a higher level, because you have the players respect instantly, I think that helps. I’m very proud, when I’m presented at functions etc., I make sure I’m presented as the NSW and Australian Indigenous coach, as well as whatever other titles I might have. As a coach, I think that the mainstream could learn a great deal in how we coach in Indigenous sport. I’m lucky enough to have been on both sides of the fence, and I tell you what, I take a lot more of Indigenous philosophy in how I coach within the mainstream than the other way. I just think it’s something that’s been missing and still is missing. If anyone really wants to have a look at a good culture of team, have a look at our Australian Indigenous side because there is nothing like it in my experience. It took a lot of time to mould but the players own and cherish the opportunities. The players take ownership of it. Once you get that buy in from players, you’ve achieved everything as a coach.
‘And I mean, this is and always will be Aboriginal land and I want to make sure that, you know, that I will always keep young Indigenous athletes remembering that our ancestors fought for this land and died on this land.’ Jamie Pittman is an Aboriginal man born in Brisbane, Queensland. He represented Australia at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and is now based full-time at the AIS in Canberra as the Boxing Australia head coach for Junior/Youth. Jamie has coached three times at the Youth World Boxing Championships and in 2019, was named as a Boxing Australia National Futures Coach.
I grew up in a place called Shortland in Newcastle, New South Wales. Life wasn’t the best for me as a child. Mum and dad suffer from mental illness. Mum’s got depression and anxiety and dad suffered through alcohol abuse going down the depression way and a sister who’s also on the mental health pension. So yeah it was a bit tough in our house when I was a young kid. But I started playing sport. I was pushed into sport from my dad. So I started with football for around four years. I remember being six playing under eights up till I was about ten. Then I fell through a plate glass window when I was nine and a half and nearly cut my arm off. I lost two veins and it was very close to me main artery. Yeah, so I got 72 stitches and was rushed off to hospital for quite a while and they said I’d never be able to straighten it when I matured. I went to the doctors and he said, ‘You’ve got to stay away from football so maybe go away to the Newcastle PCYC and hit the punching bag for six weeks and we’ll see how it strengthens up.’ So I walked into that PCYC and thought to myself straight away, ‘this is something that I want to do.’ I was only ten or nine and a half. So yeah, I got the stiches out and dad forced me to fight probably about three weeks after boxing. Didn’t have a real idea about the sport even at a basic level. But yeah, I lost me first few fights and then I just wanted to win so badly. I remember when I won my first fight I was ecstatic. I held the trophy and took it to school! My dad made me train 5am before school from when I was ten till sixteen, when I left home. And then I had to write down at school what I’d do in my lunch break. I © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_15
15 Jamie Pittman—Boxing
was told to run and then I’d go straight to the PCYC in the afternoon for around two hours of boxing. Weekends we spent travelling the countryside looking for fights. So back then in 1992 there was plenty of fights everywhere. I remember going to Gilgandra and that, driving all the way up to Brisbane on Friday and then getting in the car and driving 12 h back home as an eleven-year-old, so yeah it was very intense. I was pushed pretty hard. Some people would call it almost child abuse, but I just felt that that was a part of life and that was part of wanting to be a champion. When I first really realised I wanted to be an Olympian was probably a year into boxing. I watched Kieran Perkins win the gold medal in 1992 and I just thought, I want to go to the Olympic Games, I want to win a medal. So I had a dream for Sydney in 1992. I had an eight-year plan to make the Olympic Games at 18. So that’s what my teenage life was, just dedicated to boxing, three times a day, six days a week, living, eating it, breathing boxing. Missed out on Sydney which still puts me to tears today. Bit of a controversial decision there, I lost it there at the last qualifications. But I won three Oceania Games, gold medals, four Australian titles. I went to the Manchester Commonwealth Games which I lost in the quarter finals. I went to the 2002 World Championships in Kazakhstan. Went to the 2003 World Championships in Bangkok. Won gold at the Commonwealth Championships in Malaysia. Went to the Athens Olympic Games where I captained the Boxing team and then made a decision to turn professional, something that I never wanted to do but yeah … I always had a dream to go to four Olympic Games and win a couple of medals. But after Athens where I thought I won the fight and dropped the German twice … it put me in a bad position. I could either lay down and get depression and suffer mental illness which runs in my family, or, I could get up on the bike and change some life goals and chase that. So that’s what I chose to do. And for me, growing up, up we didn’t have a lot of money so I was watching the professionals and they were talking about you know $50,000 and $60,000 and I’m thinking, ‘you’re joking! I’ve got 125 trophies at home worth about $2.50 each and an Olympic uniform that I probably couldn’t sell!’ So yeah, I made a decision pretty quickly after Athens and turned professional and I won the Australian title in my fifth fight and then three regional belts to get ranked in the top 10 in the world. I won a WBF World title and then I fought for the WBA World title before trying to get one more title shot. I had my last fight at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 2013 against a number nine in the world, Jack Haywood—which I beat him—and then yeah retired and wanted to go onto coaching. I wanted to go back to the Olympic games as a coach. For me, the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and the World Championships and Athens, was just behind me having my two baby girls. It’s an unbelievable feeling. But after the fight I had a look at my hands, my hands aren’t in the best position, they’ve got bad arthritis and I get cut every single fight with stitches over the eyes and then my daughter has to look at me and I have to explain to her that this is fun and this is a sport. So I guess it was just in a different part of my life you know. I’d given it 24 years of everything you know, and I was back stabbed and sometimes people took money off me and I got some bad decisions but I just wanted to give an athlete something that I always looked up
15 Jamie Pittman—Boxing
to—and that’s a strong role model and a good coach that cares about them. So that’s a dream for me. I want to go to the Olympic Games as a coach. And my biggest strength is I’m a really good motivator. I know when to tell someone something inspiring at the right time. Ken, one of our best athletes at the moment had a box with Daniel Lewis. He come to me after I cornered him up at the Australian titles and said to me, ‘How did you find the right time to say those words to me?’ Because he’s a new dad and it was a close first round and I said to him ‘you must remember mate that your baby is at home and you’ve got to go home and tell him you’re either winning or you’re losing, depends on you what you’re going to do.’ He said to me it changed the fight, but to me it was just something that could spur him on, you know, I didn’t tell him to spar a left hand, right hook, left hand around anything specific. I just whispered a couple of things in his ear that made him step to gear number four instead of gear one. I’ve always had that. I remember writing these things down when I was a kid. I was only 12 or 13 years old. I wanted to succeed and prove people wrong that badly that I’d sit there in my spare time at school when other kids were writing their notes and doing their timetables and wrote these things down like, ‘I will be successful and I will do whatever it takes to be successful.’ And yeah, to be honest, I can’t be congratulated for any of this, it was, I was born with something inside me that tells me when I need to lift things up in life and when I need to kick forward in life. And I guess that all you have to do, as a coach, is say what you’re thinking to other people when they’re down and I just feel I connect that way. And I mean, this is and always will be Aboriginal land and I want to make sure that, you know, that I will always keep young Indigenous athletes remembering that our ancestors fought for this land and died on this land. And there’s something about Indigenous people where, if they get told they can’t do something, they’ll do the opposite and they’ll do it. So I guess that just was born in the spirit in me. And I was lucky that I had very athletic genes already and that will to win and that will to say ‘no this ain’t happening this way, it will happen my way’. I guess yeah it’s hard to explain, but for me as an Aboriginal person, I identified myself, so that was very hard for me. My mum and dad didn’t refuse Aboriginality but didn’t understand it. So yeah for me it’s that spirit inside of us that just wants to be the best and wants to want to represent our family and our culture the best we can. So I’m qualified as a Star One International coach January this year. I actually got named in their Australian team to go to the World Junior Championships to assist. So it’s my first trip as a National coach, so very excited. And in 2014 I was State coach for the Commonwealth Games squad where a lot of athletes in New South Wales, they pick what coach they want for their corner out of four or five coaches. Yeah, I was pretty busy that week because I have a strong relationship with athletes, probably because I’m a prior athlete myself I guess. And then I was identified at that Australian Championships by Don and Boxing Australia and they asked me if I’d be the National Regional Development Coach. It’s something that I’m still doing now, and I really enjoy delivering courses across the country and overseeing State coaches.
15 Jamie Pittman—Boxing
I guess behind the scenes some people wanted to know why I was succeeding so much as a coach so quickly. There was only a couple of those people, but I just want to worry about the athletes and learning what I can. Other than that have I found any hurdles? No not really. You know I’ve adapted pretty good, just finding that balance between family and coaching, I guess. I’ve got a family at home. I’ve got a lovely wife and two kids, so I guess just finding that balance in the middle because I used to take all my boxing home you know and I was boxing, boxing, boxing, coaching, coaching, coaching. So just trying to find that level, like everyone needs a bit of a level in life, and sometimes it’s good to be a coach at home.
Jarred Hodges—Rugby Union
‘If I can provide an opportunity for someone whether it be in sport, in education, in life, that’s what I see as sort of my role.’ Jarred is a descendant of the Gwamu (Kooma) people from South Western Queensland, but was raised, studied, and continues to live in Western Sydney. He worked at Western Sydney University in the Fields of Dreams program, and prior to that, was a Health and Physical Education teacher for 14 years. He is a Level 4 Rugby Union coach who has directed the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (National Indigenous Rugby), worked as a specialist coach with the QANTAS Wallabies (Australian National Rugby Union team), and an assistant coach for the Australian Rugby Union 7s team. He has experience as the head coach of the national Philippines Rugby team, and as assistant coach of First Grade rugby for Eastwood RUFC. In 2019 Jarred lead the development and implementation of Rugby Australia’s First Nations Rugby 7’s program—Dream Big Time. This is an historic program, increasing access and opportunities in Rugby for First Nations Communities throughout Australia.
I grew up in Western Sydney in St. Clair and sport was central in our upbringing. Structured sport was initially with league and cricket, but I played plenty of unstructured stuff too. I spent hours out on the footpaths, playing down the parks, mud footy, and cricket. It was life for us, either going to watch siblings play sport or playing sport myself, so it just become part of who I was. Down the line the family had some struggles and I’d been to way more funerals than weddings, and while at times it was tough and challenging, it was based around a strong set of values, and so those family values have stayed constant with me. The other constant for me was my sport. And as the family situation evolved, with the breakup, sport gave me that real positive environment and the ability to meet so many fantastic people. One of the families in the cricket scene sort of become my pseudo parents and I had sort of become their third son. They would come and pick me up, support and encourage me. I am very thankful for that and now that’s sort of my philosophy. If I can provide an opportunity for someone whether it be in sport, in education, in life, that’s what I see as sort of my role. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_16
16 Jarred Hodges—Rugby Union
But through my late teens I was struggling with identity in myself. We would go to the family gatherings and mum and dad—dad in particular—would say it’s your cousin, it’s your cousin, and you’re looking and there’s a range of shades, it’s like 50 shades of black! We’d have the really dark, I mean stereotypical Aboriginal person, right down to my son now who’s white, blonde hair, blue eyes. And so, as a young fella, to grasp the understanding that you’re the same even though you physically look at each other and you’re different, it’s tough! And it was around 2000 that I actually got selected to play for Lloyd McDermott Development Team and we went to a tournament, the World Barbarians 7’s held in Papua New Guinea. And it was in that environment that (a) I felt comfortable and (b) we sat around the room and it was all similar stories, so straight away I could relate. That’s when my cultural identity began. Because, yeah, growing up in those periods it wasn’t cool, I still don’t know if it is today—one’s Aboriginality wasn’t well spoken about. Because there was still a lot of prejudice and discrimination in communities, so you were taught not to speak about it. And over the last few years I got an understanding of why we were raised like that and speaking to nan, before she passed, and her upbringing. So, yeah there was reasons for everything but as a kid you didn’t know—who am I? If I look over it now it would be that partnership, that relationship with Lloyd McDermott that has probably allowed me to achieve what I have achieved over time. For the last 20 years I have been their National Director of Coaching, which is the National Aboriginal Rugby program. If there was anything, that’s probably the one significant team or organisation that’s really developed or allowed me to develop the most. It provided numerous opportunities to take teams to New Zealand coaching, coaching the National sides here in Australia—so it’s allowed me to build up a profile. They’ve helped me in terms of my coaching, combining my two passions—sport and education; but most importantly with my family they’ve helped me culturally. Initially I didn’t really know, but in the later years, I think it’s really lacking in Australian sport, right across our national teams—that culture of connection to Country. You see it in Rugby in New Zealand, with the Maori culture. And I’ve seen, witnessed and been involved with the power of culture, and what it can bring to a team and in working with the Lloyd McDermott sides. We’re bringing kids from all over the country, from different mobs, different upbringings, and we bring them together, you know. Some have got a strong sense of identity right down to some who are still struggling to find out who their mob is. And we’re bringing them together and early on we do a lot of work around culture. We’ve had sessions with Lloyd McDermott where we’ve had boys do a big mural, do a big artwork, through the course of the camp. They play their games, and in down times we’re working collectively on their artwork. And we’re having those informal chats around culture constantly, we’re sharing similar stories, and we’re sharing stories of difference. It’s some real learning and moves away from the deficit model which is very negative and focuses on disadvantage, to a strengths approach model where we focus on our strengths and connections—positivity. I sit here proudly to say that we were the first ones to do the war-cry before playing. We introduced that at a Rugby Championship, the Nationals at the under 16s, way
16 Jarred Hodges—Rugby Union
back in 2001. And now all our teams go out and perform, pre-game, the war-cry. And that just gives individuals and the wider community a sense of what Aboriginal people are about. That spiritual side. I guess it’s a reflection of society, that until we really embrace the First People, the custodians of this country, there’s gonna be a piece missing. Because it really brings meaning, and if you look at the rugby league, the Aboriginal All Stars, you see the one team playing with that avid sense of passion and pride. Because your identity means a lot, it creates a sense of belonging. And then our national teams, right across the board, across all sports, I feel, need to connect to Country, to who we are. So, if I was to coach the Wallabies, to coach a State professional team, the first thing I would do would be looking to implement some sort of cultural camp, with the Elders’ support and blessing. To really ground people. Yeah, to give us a starting point, acknowledging the First Nations Peoples and to celebrate our culture and history. Because sometimes amongst Aboriginal people there’s a huge gap of knowledge and information in some communities, and families, you know, because of the history. I’ve seen the exemptions that particularly my family had to have. People had to have dog tags, some had the Exemption Certificate and the bottom of it—after it says you cannot speak to Aboriginal people or about practices and Aboriginal customs—the bottom of it, signed and stamped by the Government, is a statement something like the lines of: ‘this is your opportunity to live like a White man.’ And so for those reasons, along with some of the massacres that went on, there’s a huge gap. You know, there’s a lot of Aboriginal people out there that were dispossessed, isolated and sent to missions. And then others who chose to work, for their own reasons, chose to work and moved along. And for those people my family was that. You know, there was a lot of cultural knowledge that was lost. Nan didn’t pass a lot of her knowledge. She never taught our language. The reason was, well, as a kid growing up, she was not to talk. There was this fear of being removed. And so we missed out on that. And it’s been my work, through community, that’s brought me back full circle to now search for that information and that’s happening daily. Our family, the Gwamu (Kooma) people, which is South West Queensland, only recently received land, the Native Title rights for the land. It was a huge celebration, it was a real significant moment, in my journey. One which I made sure I took my son up to, to share in that so he has that information, whereas nan and then dad, they’ve withheld the information. Because society pressured them. It suppressed Aboriginal people and Aboriginal culture. So there’s a huge gap some of these kids have lost. And until you know yourself, it’s hard to go and find something else. And then as my identity—as I grew confident in my own skin and my identity, the two of them grew together—it helped me relate to people. It’s been my ability to relate to people that’s probably been the biggest contributing factor to the successes that I’ve had, and the opportunities that I’ve had. Like, some of my friends are deeply devoted Muslim people, and at one point, when I was teaching, I had a look at the school, there was a lot of Muslim kids. And for a couple of years I was getting notes, ‘aw can’t do PE because I’m fasting.’ So, one year, I fasted. I did the full get up at dark, don’t drink, and I did it with them, so I could walk a day in their shoes, and geeze that was powerful. Really, really powerful. People respect honesty,
16 Jarred Hodges—Rugby Union
empathy and integrity, and that’s what you get from me. I’m prepared to seek more information, constantly trying to learn to improve myself and my understanding of others. Everything is a learning opportunity. It’s something I’ll push for with my own kids, it’s not good or bad, it’s just a chance to learn and you learn from the good and bad. You’ve just got to keep seeking those critical moments. It’s about seeking the learning out of everything. And there’s been jobs that I missed. I went for a job at a private boys’ school in Sydney as the Director of Rugby. Got the interview. Now, I was confident that I did well in the interview and here I get a phone call a couple of weeks later saying that I’d missed out and the reason was that I didn’t fit the culture of the school because I’d previously only worked with disadvantaged groups. They were speaking about my work in South West Sydney! South West Sydney is a low socio-economic area. So, you work with disadvantaged kids, you work with Aboriginal kids, you’ve worked in the Philippines. That was a bit of a kick in the guts because, you know, I’m really proud of my humble beginnings. I’m proud of coming from Western Sydney. It’s real working class and my ability to connect with what people classify as the lower end of society right up to the top end of society, that has been developed through my family and my upbringing in the Western Suburbs. Because if you are living on those northern beaches, or in other parts of Sydney, you are not exposed to other walks of life. We’re rough from the get-go and we were always exposed to all levels of life, and I’m thankful for that. I see it as a real plus. So it was funny when I went for that job and they saw it as a negative. But the beautiful thing about sport, I think, is that it has the power to overcome barriers, as long as the leadership is accepting of cultures. If they’re not, if the leader of the particular group, the team, or organisation, if they’re not accepting, if they’ve got prejudices, well then it won’t be successful, and those barriers stop people progressing. But if the leader is accepting of people and their differences and you’re using their points of difference as a strength, then it’s very, very powerful. Very powerful! And I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it work firsthand! During my work leading the Dream Big Time program, we travelled 25,000 km and visited over 90 different communities testing and searching for talent. In our travels, we conducted a clinic in Alice Springs Correctional Centre, where First Nations People make up over 85% of the population. From our visit we identified and selected one participant from the Centre who has made it all the way to the National First Nations 7’s team. Just demonstrating you can find talent anywhere if you look hard enough and clear of any bias and/or prejudice.
Rod Broad—Rugby League
‘I hope that I can pass this down the same way that my Elders would do normally, living in community. That’s just the way Aboriginal culture is, and I’ve adapted it to the sporting way.’ Rod Broad is a Dharawal/Yuin man who lives in Wollongong, NSW. He is a community rugby league coach and youth worker in the out-of-home care sector. In 2008 he established the Illawarra Titans Aboriginal Rugby League club—a club which he chairs and still plays for at the annual NSW Koori Rugby League Knockout. Rod is also the event manager for the ‘Kids in Care Cup’, which is an Aboriginal rugby league knockout tournament held annually in Wollongong to raise awareness about the out-of-home-care sector and recruit more Aboriginal foster carers.
I’ve been playing rugby league since I was five years old and I’ve done a little bit of boxing. Rugby league runs in our family, so it was either that or boxing—which also runs in the family—that I was going to end up doing and it hasn’t stopped. I’m 35 now, so I’ve been playing for 30 years non-stop. Starting to feel it now in the back end of life. I started my younger years out at West Wyong. Then I moved back home to the Illawarra, where my family are from. I played out in Bombo plains—very successful club—and later I had two seasons with the Toowoomba Clydesdales, which were the feeder club for the Brisbane Broncos. So I spent two years out of State, trying to make the NRL, which was the ARL back then. And now I am playing back in the Illawarra, with Wests, where my young fella plays too. I’ve gotta give my son credit for getting me into coaching. I started off as a water runner initially but when my son got to an age where he wanted to play football, I let him talk me into coaching. That’s six years ago. But I was doing a lot of coaching for Toowoomba before I had my qualifications. And I always had the luxuries of going back to the community, helping young kids come through, whether it was in sport or in my work capacity, as a youth worker. I used to work in detention centres, and in jobs based around child protection. But as with everything these days, you need
© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_17
17 Rod Broad—Rugby League
to be qualified, and with my Indigenous background and my work capacity, that sort of pushed me into going on and becoming a qualified coach in the Illawarra. I’ve learnt a lot coaching my son. I used to ride him a lot. That’s a disadvantage of coaching someone close to you. You may feel from time to time you can ride them. But I’ve learnt that he’s no different to anyone else that participates in the team. They’ve all got a role to play and you address them as a whole team. There are times when I would speak to individuals and point out some good things that they’ve done and some areas we could work at. There are never bad areas, just areas we could work on a little bit more. That’s totally different from when I was growing up, because you’d get yelled at. I’ve never learnt much from yelling. I don’t think it gets much out of people. If someone yelled at me, I wouldn’t want to work better or harder for ‘em. But if there’s more of that encouragement technique, and you’re teaching these kids good sportsmanship—if you win it’s good, and if you lose, you learn things from that, you know. But losing as a coach is a different feeling to playing the game. I can lose a game now—in my own game on the weekend I lost and it feels hollow—but I can sorta look in myself and say, ‘alright, if I’m honest about my game I did muck up there and I know how to fix that next week’. But with kids, when they lose, I think, ‘how can I help them push through?’ And I guess I reflect back on a lot of my work stuff and dealing with kids when they’re in their deepest and darkest days coming from the juvenile justice scenario. I guess having that one-on-one time with them. I try not to focus on the negatives. It’s just, ‘aw you went really well here but here’s some areas we can work on’. So you keep the talk positive. I don’t know when I’ll stop coaching. It brings satisfaction. It’s one thing doing it as a parent. I can look after my son one-on-one, that’s not a worry. But when I’m looking after him and 17 of his mates, that’s another domain for me. But if I can pass the information and knowledge on to them, well that’s something I should be doing. I feel it is part of the coach’s role. In our culture it’s about that information you’re sharing and the storytelling. You know that’s heavily in our culture, Aboriginal culture. So my cultural ways more or less collide with my sporting ways because I’m at that age now where I would be an Elder in football, if there were such things. So it’s only right that I’m passing on information and experience down to these kids. That’s how I look at it anyway and I hope that I can pass this down the same way that my Elders would do normally, living in community. That’s just the way Aboriginal culture is, and I’ve adapted it to the sporting way. I have an uncle I spend a bit of time with. He coaches my week to week side at the moment, but I help him out a lot and I guess he mentors me. He was the one who told me, when I was a captain-coach, ‘you gotta get people around you that you can trust’ and he was the first one I called on to help me run my bench. He’s taught me a lot of things. He was a boxer, a well-known Australian champion, and people used to say that he would never smoke or drink. He never swears. They’d always refer back to him. He showed me that you didn’t need to do that. Try and live a healthy lifestyle, this is how you do it. So I’ve picked that up from him. I’ve never touched alcohol. I’ve never touched cigarettes. Knowing that he’s got that sorta respect shows me, ‘aw okay, I wouldn’t mind that, when it’s my turn’. I’m not wishing that it was
17 Rod Broad—Rugby League
my turn yet, ‘cause that’s a long time away. But if there is anyone I look up to, it would be that uncle. And now we sort of share the joy because I’m a man now and he’s an older man. Something else I do is help run the Illawarra Titans. It’s an Aboriginal side for the Aboriginal Knockout. The Koori Knockout is a state-wide competition. Teams from all over New South Wales come together to play over the October long weekend and whoever wins the event has the right to host the next year. I’ve played 10–11 years out of area in a team which I’ve got connections to through an uncle that’s married to an auntie. So I played most of my life for them until I got called to set up the Illawarra Titans and help form a new club, locally. So with that I’ve come home and one goal that I’ve got, is when I finish playing, I would like to be the head coach there at some stage. We’ll see what the future holds. I’ve still got a couple more years that I want to play. And I guess a lot of our focus, in the Illawarra Titans, is we’re not just a rugby league club and I don’t want to be known as a rugby league club. It’s what we do in the community, outside rugby league. That’s something I put in place straight away. I didn’t want people thinking, ‘they’re just football meatheads, they don’t know nothing’. So I was teaching them about giving back, ‘cause we have some sponsors, we’ve got obligations, and so we go out and do development work. It might be attending NAIDOC event or doing a parks walk competition at one of their events. It could be anything. I always get the kids and make them feel accountable. It’s not just about football, it’s about what we actually do for our community. It’s that connection. We have our own system in what we work in, our cultural ways, and that’s part of it. The kids that want to play footy, that’s what they need. Another thing we do is run an event for the Aboriginal mob out here, the Care Cup. It’s sorta a development side for kids from under sixes to under 17s. An Aboriginal side plays against a non-Indigenous side, ‘cause there’s a lot of non-Indigenous kids that want to be part of it. And what we do—it’s like a cultural exchange camp within those six weeks—all the kids in the same age group come and train together, but there’s a part where we separate and the Indigenous boys ’ll play with their staff and the non-Indigenous team will go with the others and they’ll play a couple of games on the day. And I hate when you get down to it ‘cause it’s hard to explain but if you see it in process, it’s just amazing. Maybe I’m getting softer in my older age, but all these things you think can’t happen, well they do happen. And you see how much the kids shine, you know. They’re just beaming all day and they’re walking away with their jumpers. Most clubs don’t even give jumpers out these days, but we give them jumpers, we give them trophies, hoodies, whatever we can. But it’s not about what we give them, it’s what they take away from it, that connection, and the event they participated in and the knowledge they gained from that. There was none of this stuff around when I was young. If I wanted to play in an Aboriginal knockout, with my uncles and big cousins, I had to wait ‘til I was a certain age. I played when I was 15, playing against men. But with this, kids can feel it at a young age, and they know what it’s about. So I guess it’s just socially like a high school system, you go from this year to next year, to the year above. And that’s
17 Rod Broad—Rugby League
why I wanted to come home. I wanted to build something, but not just for the men. When I got the call my first reaction was, we got a big community, a lot of young kids. We need someone to set something up. The tides have turned, and my son is at a luxury that a lot of kids don’t have. I know I didn’t have a dad that I could go and watch. But ever since Preston was two years old, he was in the sheds and my daughter. Like football’s getting boring for her but she’s the same. Ever since she was two years old, she was in the dressing sheds. It’s that family stuff. I’ve been lucky to be part of clubs that are built on families and the love and respect for one another. I know that sounds like a bloody book in a fairy tale, but I’ve been bloody blessed for that. And especially with that Indigenous stuff, that’s a whole new level, ‘cause when you walk through those doors you are family.
‘When my pop was about 75, I remember him calling my mum to his house for an important meeting. This was to “break the news” to her that we were Indigenous.’ Kristy Smith is a Wonnarua woman and Intermediate level netball coach. She currently coaches and grades junior representative teams on Awabakal Country (Newcastle, NSW). Kristy also holds a National C level Umpiring badge and has played netball for more than 30 years.
I was born in 1977. My biological dad’s a Wonnarua man, born and bred in Cessnock NSW. Unfortunately my father and I don’t have a relationship. Whilst he is now reformed, my mum left him not long after I was born because of an addiction. My mum’s grandmother was from Northern Queensland and when my great pop went away for the war—he was married with children at the time—he fell in love with a young lady and returned home with her, pregnant with his baby. Great nan went on to have three boys, one being my beloved pop. My pop raised my mum and aunty on his own from toddlers as their mum walked out on them early in their lives. When my pop was about 75, I remember him calling my mum to his house for an important meeting. This was to ‘break the news’ to her that we were Indigenous. He had been keeping this to himself his whole life. This was not out of shame, but for protection as he and his brothers had been at risk of being taken and the deceit had continued—even meaning that my great nan and pop did not marry until 70 years of age. My pop wept tears that day and my mum came home distraught, not really knowing how to tell me. It’s odd … I actually laughed when Mum told me. Something I often do when I find things ridiculous! You see I wasn’t worried, I was happy—it just seemed to make sense! Mum did however warn me not to raise our Indigenous heritage with pop, that it was not a topic for discussion. I used to be annoyed at pop, however after reading Anita Heiss’s book, Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, I feel sad for him, and for us—that we missed out on part of our heritage. My kids and I have proudly identified since we were told, however the missing pieces leave me yearning for more information. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_18
18 Kirsty Smith—Netball
So growing up with a dad who flitted in and out of my life when it suited and living between Mum’s, Pop’s and my aunty’s made me a really nervy kid. There was no consistency to any day and my anxiety was bad in my younger years. I didn’t really have an abundance of friends in primary school—I didn’t like being away from my mum and whenever I was—I was a nervous wreck but hid it well. Most of the time, I enjoyed the company of my cousin Darren who was three months younger than me. We climbed trees and enjoyed the outdoors every afternoon after school. When I was seven, I started playing netball and was placed in a team with some girls from school, mostly in the year below me. Netball became my ‘safe place’. It provided me with friendships, with something in common with girls who wouldn’t normally want to play with me at school. I was lucky enough to have a maternal young lady called Karen coach me. She instilled great foundation skills in our team and always encouraged participation. There was never any harm to trying and it would always be rewarded with some positivity. Her commitment, along with my passionate obsession with the sport, saw me make a representative team when I was 12 years old. My rep coach was Mr. Clausen, fondly referred to as ‘Clauso’. Much like my stepfather (that I proudly called Dad), he was a gentle man, another father figure. Clauso was mostly fair; but tough on us when we needed it too. Without a doubt, these were the greatest years of my life and created the platform for the person I am today. I was the teacher’s pet and never one of the popular kids at high school. However netball gave me friendships within these circles, and I was respected because of that. Our high school team came second in the state in 1993, and that year I even got invited to some parties—without being a plus one! It wasn’t that I was a different person at netball. It is just that netball allowed people to get to know me, without the normal social class judgement. I continued to play competitive A grade netball until last year, aged 41. Now I have two children, Ally (16) and Toby (13). Toby played mixed netball for his school and is a great little player. I love watching boys play netball. The elevation and contest are very entertaining as they compete. Ally blankly refused to play netball until the age of 11. That year I committed to coaching ten 11-year-olds. Nine of them hadn’t ever played netball. This was tough! We were playing against girls with four years’ experience and getting flogged. I worked hard on session plans to teach the team the core skills of the game and we changed our focus to little things like goal attempts, and most importantly, finishing the game with a smile on our faces. Ally made the development squad for two years and was heartbroken to not make the actual rep team. After the second time, I said to her, ‘do you really think that you did everything you could have to make that team?’ Kids need to be kept accountable. She admitted to me that she hadn’t, and that she wanted to try with all of her being for the year after. It was over these years of watching Ally’s journey that I decided that I wanted to coach. I attended the Coaching Unlimited Foundation coaching course at the end of 2017, along with my daughter Ally, and loved every minute of it. I also started umpiring a relaxed twilight competition that same year and found that I really enjoyed it too. In my teen years I would have been close to vomiting with nerves if someone handed me a whistle. Just under 12 months later, I was awarded my National
18 Kirsty Smith—Netball
C badge for umpiring. My peers would never had ever guessed that this would have happened in a million years. I also leapt straight from my Foundation accreditation into my Development accreditation after liaising with our local Netball Academy for an assistant coaching position. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in gaining the position. They advised me that they loved my passion and outlook, however that I did not have the experience required. That became my light bulb moment: the experience is not going to fall into my lap. I am going to have to go and beg steal and borrow for it! I threw myself at any opportunity to prove I was worthy of being given a chance. Without the opportunity to get experience, I would never be experienced! The highlight of 2018 saw me join Sione’s Academy and Netty Heads on a trip to Tonga to deliver netball programmes in schools. I was assistant coach and head umpire for the competitive tournament games. This was an amazing experience. I’ll paint a picture for you … We are instructing a group of children to line up ready for a game of captain ball to practice the art of catching and throwing. They are all sitting down in a line and I look down and find that two of the children are wearing the same joggers. When they stand up to play, I am corrected to see that they are sharing a pair of joggers with one wearing the left and one wearing the right, both with the biggest smiles on their face! We worked 15-hour days rebuilding a school and completing netball skills with groups of up to 50 kids at a time. The very heated and competitive tournaments were played under flood lights in a marked-up car park and the Tongans were supportive, spirited and welcoming. We became like family. Once again, the talent I witnessed was raw and underdeveloped and left me yearning to make a difference in this sport. At this point I was feeling indebted to this sport. It seemed to have allowed me more in life than I had given it thanks for. I applied for a head coach position for the U12’s at my association and was unfortunately unsuccessful. I was however offered an assistant coaching position with our U14’s very talented team in division 1. At first, I was disappointed that my actual coaching skills would not be offered; however I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and to self-reflect and make the most of any opportunity presented. Once upon a time, I am regretful to say that I would have given up. I have started many courses, hobbies, books etc. and given up without a care. If something got too hard, I would normally just quit. Sport is also full of politics, so I try to check in with my ego regularly to remind myself as to why I am coaching. This year I managed to obtain my Intermediate coaching accreditation and the absolute highlight was being offered the U14’s Div 2 team for 2020! Netball seems to offer me resilience, and I know that 2020 will bring along further challenges as I gain experience as the head coach.
Mark Heiss—Touch Football
‘For me sport reflects life, or it reflects character, so I need to send them a message, and be consistent in my morals in life as I am in my morals in coaching. So yeah, honesty, that idea of having a go, passion, and really reflecting what’s accepted of my own life. I try not to make decisions based on coaching that I’m not comfortable with based on in life.’ Mark Heiss is a Wiradjuri man who was born and raised on the land of the Gadigal and Bidgigal peoples. He is a level 2 touch football coach and educational leader who works as the Director of Innovation and Learning, Marist College North Shore. He has coached in school and representative contexts for more than 15 years, is currently the Chair of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and Director at the Aurora Education Foundation.
I grew up as the youngest of five kids and was encouraged to get involved with sports at a young age amongst my mates, and a little bit from my parents. My siblings were involved in sports, but I was probably the most heavily involved. I’m also the youngest by a long way. At a very young age I started playing rugby league. Right up until I was sorta 17/18, winning a number of premierships, playing in some representative schoolboy sides, so, what we would call the New South Wales Combined Catholic Colleges. Touch football, playing at a National level, winning a number of state championships where I was able to again play against and be coached by some of the best players in the country and in the world. I first took on coaching a schoolboy team at 21. It was an Open’s team, so those guys were 17, so there wasn’t that big of an age difference. Most of my coaching has occurred through the schooling system, but I’ve had a couple of teams outside of that where I’ve coached representative touch football teams, and again I would’ve only been, maybe, 25 when I was taking on that responsibility. I’ve also coached the New South Wales under 18s girls on three occasions for touch football. I’ve got two great parents and, I mean, I think that sometimes coaching begins at the parent level. And the fact that they were both very, very fair, and very, very honest in their assessment of us as kids, you know, how they dealt with us. So that © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_19
19 Mark Heiss—Touch Football
gave me a basis really of how I wanted to treat other people. And with that, you still need to make hard calls. And my parents had to make hard calls as well, such as telling me I couldn’t go somewhere, I couldn’t do something. But they were able to justify, it didn’t just come down to ‘well I’m your parents and that’s why I’m doing this’. And I would never really employ that tactic as a coach either: ‘Well I’m the coach and this is the way it goes’ as a coach I’ve gotta be smarter than that and be able to justify my own decisions. I think honesty between the coach and the athlete’s really important. Honesty within the athlete is important. I believe that the development of the player is more important than the success of the team. Some people have said to me ‘don’t cut off your nose to spite your face,’ like, don’t make a decision that’s gonna hurt the whole team, because, you know you’re better off just letting that kid play even though he got suspended or missed training whatever it is. I can’t do that. I have to make the best call for the individual and the team. Sometimes that means making hard calls and dishing out tough love. For me sport reflects life, or it reflects character, so I need to send them a message, and be consistent in my morals in life as I am in my morals in coaching. So yeah, honesty, that idea of having a go, passion, and really reflecting what’s accepted of my own life. I try not to make decisions based on coaching that I’m not comfortable with based on in life. And as I said, I used that example if a kid was to get suspended, and he was told not to play and turn up to the field and, I knew I needed him to win the game. I think I would have to lose that game rather than have the kid play because of a lesson in life there. What type of coach do I want to be? Does that reflect the type of person that I am? Is the decision that I’m going to make in my coaching, the same style of decision that I would make in life? My role is to, firstly ensure that my athletes are good people. Well, not ensure, but to develop my athletes as people. And then to develop them as athletes as well. And not everyone wants to hear that, the players don’t always want to hear it. But hopefully through the characteristics and qualities that I try and set up for my athletes they get a little bit of both—they get better as a player and they get better as a person. I had a schoolteacher, he’s actually ended up becoming a principal, who had a real big, big impact on me wanting to become a teacher. And I think that after I knew that I wanted to become a teacher, coaching sort of followed suit. I always volunteered to coach teams whether it be touch football, rugby league, whatever it might be. Because I felt that I had, as a teacher, a little bit of knowledge and I wanted to pass that on. And again, I’d taste success when I felt really positive being in team environments. And that was great to see young kids, boys and girls, share that experience as well when they were successful. I was happy to see that as a coach. Yeah. Again, just that feeling that, of giving back and that. And so I wanted to do that. So there’s a desire for me to say, ‘well I’ve been coached really well, and I’ve had a really good experiences’ and I want to be able to pass that on. And I think it keeps you involved in sports without being a competitor any more as well—it can keep you a little bit grounded.
19 Mark Heiss—Touch Football
I’ve always felt that, the coaches that could stay calm, particularly under pressure, understand the game, give a reasoning to their decisions are successful coaches. I’m a fairly passionate and competitive person. And I can get hot headed like anyone on the field. I can get hot headed as a coach, so probably in the last five years, I’ve really worked on being relational with my athletes, but trying to be really clear, and take the emotion out of a lot of the decisions that I make or even take the emotion out of my feedback. And it might be to praise. So you could use it in another way, you could give praise to two or three athletes in a group, and then the other players could see what’s going on or they might understand and pick up the message and say ‘yeah, that person is having a really good game or is running really hard,’ so, it’s a non-confrontational way of also giving some feedback to the other athletes saying ‘I need you to lift or I need you to do this for me.’ If I’m talking to a coach or a player directly around feedback, it’s individualised, and I would try not to compare athletes. I mean we don’t get paid, you know I mean, unless you’re at a high level of coaching you get paid and because I haven’t gone that pathway, I don’t get any mail saying there are positions available for coaches. Anything that I hear of would be through the grapevine or through my club. And again that would only be at an amateur level, so it’s really hard. I mean, even with touch football, you know, the World Cup is on at the moment. If I was to put my hand up to assistant coach or manage a side, it would still be thousands of dollars and hours, and hours of time out of my own pocket, out of my own life. There’s no remuneration. At a club level for AFL it’s the same. You might get a couple of hundred bucks towards the end of the season trip. And there’s basically no money in athletics in Australia anyway, so yeah, it would be very hard to do anything like, coach athletics, without still needing to work fulltime. I’ve never really chased up any you know support or scholarships or grants from the Sports Commission and anything like that. I’ve been encouraged on a couple of occasions to come along to this coaching course or you know, my club would pay for my Level Two (intermediate course), whereas I’ve paid for Level 1 (introductory course). Little things like that. So I guess it’s good to have a little bit of recognition from your club or from your workplace or whatever. But, yeah, I guess I’ve always been self-supported and self-driven in my desire to be a good coach, rather than, feel like I’ve been really heavily supported by anyone else or pushed by anyone else. I’m not quite sure that there’s been a major influence from my cultural background. I think it’s been more from my mentors and things like that. There’s times I guess where, in coaching Indigenous athletes, there’s an advantage to having an Indigenous coach. And that the kids might feel a little bit more comfortable conversing with me or talking about things. I never hide my culture. And some athletes might come up and want to talk about it or find out you know more about it. But yeah, I mean, look, I’ve been coaching a team where there’s been a derogatory comment said, ‘I need to jump in on that.’ Whether there’s been, Aboriginal students or Aboriginal players in the team or not, I’ve had to jump in. There’s been times where I’ve been an athlete, with another Aboriginal player in a team there’s been a racist remark made and we both had to jump in and say ‘that’s not acceptable.’ And
19 Mark Heiss—Touch Football
that’s before the coach jumped in, that’s before the captain jumped, that’s before anyone else we had to say, ‘well hang on, that’s not on.’ So I guess, I’ve been able to set a standard and say, ‘we’re not going to make any kind of racist, any kind of sexist, any kind of you know, homophobic comments because that’s just not what we’re about.’ I would love to see more professional coaches, you know, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander professional coaches, at least coaching at a higher level. So you probably have quite a few at that community, grassroots level, and then less at the professional level. I would probably say like, Michael O’Loughlin for example, who is a premiership player and is now working with the Sydney Swans Academy. A player like that, held in such high regard, they then, they can be the trail blazers. But I wonder if at times they’re trailblazers for, other, elite athletes, do you know what I mean? So, there he’s a trailblazer for other players that have played at that level to then go on. I guess what we need to see are trail blazers of ordinary coaches doing extraordinary things at grassroots, or middle representative honours as opposed to just taking the elite athlete, and putting them in an elite coaching situation, because they were an elite athlete.
Gareth VonDuve—Football (Soccer)
‘I haven’t grown up in such a traditional lifestyle, but I think I’ve sort of had it bled into me from the start that, I’ve got to and want to be a leader.’ Gareth von Duve is an Aboriginal man from Mount Gambier and is a descendant of the Narrunga clan. He now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Gareth is a Level 2 football (soccer) coach working with representative youth teams. He has been coaching for 10 years.
Where’s my mob from? The background of my great grandparents starts at Point Pearce in the mission, my nan was the eldest daughter of I think 14 kids. She’s now an Elder in the Boandik area and she’s part of the Elders Association, so I’ve always sort of been involved somewhere. Nan has taught me of the Narrunga tribe as that is where our bloodlines run to. I was born in Mount Gambier but grew up in Glencoe about 15 min out of town. There were maybe only one or two other Indigenous families in the area and growing up my parents used to foster Indigenous children until they could find a permanent home. Glencoe was a very close community. My dad doesn’t have Indigenous bloodline in him, it’s only my mum. My dad is a pretty resilient man and always taught me to try and never show too much emotion if I was ever teased. I never faced much racial abuse but at times there was. You can see in professional football and Aussie rules and life in general how racism is a big thing and it can affect them immediately. And some teams, especially in country Aussie rules, if they know you’ve got a weakness, then they’ll target it. I had a lot of backing in the way of family and friends so I would never feel alone if it happened. I had seen how it had affected some people and I didn’t like it, so I never wanted to draw attention to myself in that way. I started sport when I was very young, following my oldest brother and dad around the football and cricket club. I played football, Aussie rules and cricket. In Aussie rules I made a SA country select squad but never made the final team. And for football, in our league, we played in a junior tournament against Adelaide teams and we went for four tournaments in a row winning that, so that wasn’t too bad. And then yeah, in cricket I made a South Australia Outbacks team. So I’ve always tried to go © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_20
20 Gareth VonDuve—Football (Soccer)
as far as I can in terms of playing. But when I hit 16, 17, I wasn’t at that elite level. I was good enough for representative teams at home but when it got to that next level, I just didn’t have that spark. So I was able to make a lot of State Country sides but not ever break that next barrier. And then in terms of coaching, I was an assistant coach for a couple of years. In 2011 we took on an under-17s job at our football club, me and one of my best mates Skeeta, we took that job on and halfway through the year I got a knock to the head and had a little procedure to help structure my eye. And I was told to never play again. I’m blind in my left eye and if I was to keep playing, I was just going to make it worse if I got another knock. Laying in hospital my parents visited me and told me that I should listen to the doctor’s advice and not play anymore. I was hurt and frustrated that at 21 I couldn’t play sport anymore. Dad said: ‘The best thing you could ever do is to become a coach now when you’re able to. So you don’t want to harp on it, but you’re able to use this experience as an edge to sit on. You can prove to people that even though you’ve gone through an injury and an accident and stuff like that, you’re still good enough to be at the top level.’ And I think that was probably the biggest thing he shared. I went through a little bit of depression and it wasn’t exactly the best time for me. Being so sport orientated, I was playing three sports at the time, and to be told never to play again, I was pretty upset with myself. But my parents and close friends had been there supporting me into coaching. So I had decided that I would focus on my coaching. I’ve got big dreams on what I want to do for soccer. I want to try and get into a professional base or at least a semi-professional base. I’m there now in a junior sense, but I’d like to coach seniors. And I’ve had an interview with FFSA [Football Federation South Australia]. Didn’t get that position just purely for my qualifications and experience. But I’ve got a pathway and I’ll do the qualifications, I’ll do that training, because I want to try and better myself. And If I can’t make a professional base, then I want to be the best coach possible. I think a big thing for me and my mates … like a lot of people have said that it sounds a little bit off the beaten track, but down in Mount Gambier there weren’t many Indigenous role models. And I wanted to take on that responsibility, to prove to a couple of people that, not all Indigenous are what the social side sees or what they portray Indigenous people to be. A lot of people say, ‘Oh you know, they’re nothing but drunks, petrol sniffers’, stuff like that. So I wanted to give a different angle on that. And to just prove that we’re… there may be the odd one out there that’s not quite switched on, but we don’t all fall under that category, if that makes sense. So when I coach, I try to take on a mentoring position or like a sort of older brother type personality where I’m still a coach, but I want to help people out. I want to make a difference in their life other than just seeing them at training and the game day. Like one of the young fellas when we were playing, he was going for his L’s and his mum and dad—because they owned a restaurant—they could never take him driving, so I just used to do that with him because I had my full license. But we had a couple of players that still like that professional based relationship where I was a coach, they’re a player. And that taught me that not everyone’s the same. I think
20 Gareth VonDuve—Football (Soccer)
that’s one of the things I’ve learnt when you get close relationships with teenage boys when they’re going through that period of high school, girls, jobs, everything like that. It makes you realise that some people are more fragile than others. Especially as players. Some kids you can bring them off the park and, give them a barrel full and they’ll go back out and react to that. Then there’s others, you do that, and the tail goes between their legs and you won’t get two words out of them for the next three weeks. I don’t see myself as the smartest man, but I’ve had life experiences. And I suppose the more you can try and help people out, the better they become and sometimes it’s the better you become as well, because you learn different things about certain people. Something else I was trying to do with one of the Indigenous health systems down here was trying to start up a junior clinic. Wasn’t anything big, just wanted to try and get Indigenous boys doing something. But the community health centre didn’t really want to help out … they just said, ‘Oh, it’s not on our high priority’ and I said, ‘Well, youse don’t have to actually do anything, all you’ve got to do is make the poster up.’ Like, I said, ‘I’ve got all the gear, I’ll supply everything. And all the kids have to do is just rock up, you know, with a pair of boots or whatever and just have a kick, it doesn’t have to be anything big.’ I think they were expecting that it was going to cost money, which it wasn’t, so that frustrated me because it wasn’t about making money for anything else. It was purely for the fact that I go in there and see my nan when they’re doing their health check and you see some of the boys sitting out there and you can just see on their faces that, they’ve been up for 3 days or they’ve been on drugs and now they’re coming down and they’re starting to feel sick and, they’ve been drinking for the last couple of days and there’s stuff like that. And it kills me as an Indigenous young male to see that these kids have that kind of pathway. I haven’t grown up in such a traditional lifestyle, but I think I’ve sort of had it bled into me from the start that, I’ve got to and want to be a leader. So I’ve always had that little bit of leadership about me and I think that’s just my personality. I like trying to, not take charge, but I like just being someone people can rely on. So I think you’re always trying to make people proud of what you do. I mean, I always say you don’t do it to please other people but at times that’s how I sort of feel. I feel like I try and push myself further just to bring joy for my family. My mum and my dad are always pretty proud that I’m trying to take bigger steps and further myself as a coach and I always want to better myself. My family has had some hard times in the past. I think they’re happy seeing me succeed and I’m happy to try and shed new light on another day. And I think that has to do with how my mum and dad raised me. We acknowledged our history but never abused it. You see some families going to the Government for the hand outs, which is fine, but that’s not what we were about. And it’s taught me to take things head-on, and not sit back and wait for someone else to do it for you. I love being Indigenous; I love my family; I love my heritage. But I don’t want that to be a reason why I succeed. My reason for me succeeding or being successful is my ability in what I do and me as a person, not my cultural background.
‘I was always one of those who took on everything. So if the coach said to do something then I’ll try and do it. And whoever was my coach at the time I just tried to absorb as much as I could. Like even coaches of other teams. I’d watch them do something and I’d just walk over and ask them why they were doing it.’ Umima Austral is an Aboriginal woman who lives and works in Darwin, Northern Territory. She holds a Foundation netball coaching qualification and has coached youth athletes at the community level for more than ten years. Umima is also a netball umpire qualified at the National C level and works for the Department of Education, Northern Territory Government.
Well everything starts off with sport. All Indigenous kids in the Territory, they love their sport. But most Indigenous communities up here (in Darwin) are softball and basketball, footy. So I learnt about netball at school in year four or something. And it had me hooked from day one. And so I’ve always been a player up until I was about 17, where, actually it was a project I did in high school, where I wanted to teach some kids some sport— basketball, touch footy and netball—because they were my three favourites at the time. And so it was sort of like, what is that extra study that you have to do in year 11? Independent studies or something. You pick something. So I picked to go to a school and teach those three sports to a year level over four or six weeks. So that’s how it started and then when I was 17 Palmerston Netball Association, who at the time mainly worked with schools and doing school netball teams, they offered to pay for a level zero netball coaching course for me, which I completed, so that was the basis. And then from there I’ve been coaching on and off until now, with various age groups of netball. So your under 15s. I started with under 13s and under 7s. Then I moved to under 15s, then to under 17s. And then I progressed into the Opens and now I’m doing an A-Res team. So mainly I’m a netball coach. That was my sport, my field that I play, umpire and coach. I was offered a scholarship at NTIS [Northern Territory Institute of Sport], but I had an injury in the last week of training, and the doctor wouldn’t let me go back. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_21
21 Umima Austral—Netball
Had a scholarship with AIS [Australian Institute of Sport], where I ranked in the top three. And that was, I think that was more in reference to my umpiring, because at the time I had just travelled and umpired at an interstate event. So I’m quite capable of umpiring at a high level. But I’m on the fence at the moment about going for a paid role doing an NT team or at the Institute. There are some positions available for those that are willing to learn at the moment. But I travel a lot for work and I don’t think that I would be able to commit as much as I need to commit. Because I work for the Department of Education, doing school attendance and work takes me out to communities regularly, maybe every second week. So I’d be letting the team down basically. So over the years I’ve just learnt from other coaches, because I’ve always played at a high level, so I take on how they’ve coached me and just put that back into the teams that I was coaching at the time. I was always one of those who took on everything. If the coach said to do something then I’ll try and do it. And whoever was my coach at the time I just tried to absorb as much as I could. Like even coaches of other teams. I’d watch them do something and I’d just walk over and ask them why they were doing it. And I saw a couple of jewels on the weekend at a netball tournament in Alice, so I just started recording them. I think a coach has to have good communication skills because everyone learns in a different way. So you need to be able to cater the way that you speak to deliver that message to everyone. And then just, I guess, well you need to be committed and then have the willingness to learn, because in my opinion you’re constantly learning. And there is the mentoring side as well. Like telling the players to stick to it because there’s a lot of distractions up here. Peers, drugs and alcohol are a massive one. Family. Just stuff like that. Well it’s like when you go to a community. You know, they’re all such tight family members. Something goes wrong, you know, the connection to Country. Like some people I know will leave their areas for a short time and then they’re just, they need to go back, they’re driven back. Then there could be a devastating loss with a particular family member that just completely changes the course of someone’s life. Young people starting young families, at such a young age. So you might have a developing or rising star, you know, who knows their pathway and then all of a sudden, they have a child on the way. And peers can be a distraction. School friends lead you off a long way. Shopping, smoking, you know, and all that leads to your drinking and your drug abuse and stuff like that. Trying to look cool for your friends. So I let them know you have to just stick to it, because everyone peaks at a different level or a different age. And just, if this is what you want to do then keep doing it. You don’t have to be an A-grade athlete to enjoy your netball. You know, netball’s for everyone. It’s there to have fun, learn new things, gain new friends. In my opinion we can do whatever we want, basically. We’ve just got to want to do it. But that’s a challenge. Because I might be perceived as different because I might not be as dark. I’m more educated. I have things. I have a Diploma and I’m half way through my teaching degree. But also in terms of the way I speak and stuff like that. So that part of it is a challenge. But all you can do is try and keep trying.
21 Umima Austral—Netball
Same with getting more Indigenous people coaching. It happens too much where they develop something, not get the numbers that they expect to get, and then they scrap it. It’s just tweaking, it’s slow tweaks. You know, something doesn’t work, take a little bit away, try something else. Because unfortunately not one program’s going to fit every Indigenous person across the board. We’re all different. You might have similar or the same skin colour and similar cultural attributes, but they are completely different. And then there’s, because every community is different too. So to get the numbers or the people involved you need to tweak it again for that community. But if we had all the resources, you know, unlimited resources I’d probably work on some sort of expression of interest to all communities and partner them up in their sporting field with a coach as an assistant and start from there. I’m a hands-on person, you need to throw them in there if you’re going to get them. Like learning theory in front of a computer or you know, a PowerPoint’s not going to work. All kids, particularly Indigenous, they’re all hands on, particularly when it comes to sport. They don’t want to be reading about sport or doing a PowerPoint, they want to be, you know, kicking the footy with some people or something like that. Something along that line. Like I would love to have for the next tournament … like for the tournament I just went to, I would have loved to have put out an expression of interest and grabbed an Indigenous person who was interested in coaching, to come and learn during that tournament. You know? And Northern Territory Netball have worked really hard with starting an Indigenous comp in Darwin in 2017. In the first year, I umpired because I was travelling heaps with work. In the second year, I just watched. Stuff like that. Showing them what it’s actually like. Because you’re never too old or too young to try something.
‘I’m a person who is passionate about empowering other young females to get up and have a go. Letting them know that they can do other stuff besides staying in one place or becoming a young mum or leaving school early. There is more out in the world for Indigenous females to conquer.’ Shennae Neal is an Aboriginal woman who lives in Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. She founded the Yarrabah Nighthawks Netball Club who play in the Cairns District Netball competition. Shennae is a legal studies graduate and café owner.
Back home in Yarrabah we don’t have many opportunities for females in the community. It’s just basically all sports for men at this stage. And to me, I’m a person who is passionate about empowering other young females to get up and have a go. Letting them know that they can do other stuff besides staying in one place or becoming a young mum or leaving school early. There is more out there in the world for Indigenous females to conquer. And what I decided is, I sat down with a few young people and said, ‘We need to do something about this. We need to do something for the disadvantaged females in our community’. And so I just wrote on a paper to say what sort of sports would they be interested in, and then netball came about and I said, ‘Well I’m just going to go ahead now and try and put a project together and bring a team together to play in the Cairns comp’, which I did—the Yarrabah Nighthawks. It’s a really good initiative because those girls, our young mums who play in the team, feel more inspired now to attempt to do something with their life and become motivated. I didn’t get the actual training or get accredited or anything because back home there was no one to do that sort of stuff. I had to jump on board and have a go, and just sort of learn and watch other people how they usually coach. I just went ahead and done coaching. So, I’m a player, I am the coach, and I do all the grant writing. I just wrote a project proposal for $4000.00 for our flights to fly to Canberra for an Aboriginal netball tournament. And I do some of the fundraising—I went on the internet and signed up for Go Funding and we raised money there as well. I’m really © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_22
22 Shennae Neal—Netball
passionate and I want to see a direction for our females of the future. And if I don’t stand now then who else will? For so many years there have been no opportunities for our females! I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to do it and pave that way. We had some challenges, amongst ourselves, amongst the team. Because when you’re a community member you have to sort of equalise yourself with other different family and tribal groups and make it equal. By going on this approach we have to show respect to one another and if someone has something negative to say then you remove yourself from the negative atmosphere and put it into a positive. Yeah. I’m 24. And I’ve faced a lot of that. I was lucky that I grew up in a positive lifestyle because otherwise it would have gone differently and I would have given up on the netball. So you have to have positive thinking, and most of our young people don’t have that influence … that positive influence around them. And I noticed the only time they start thinking positive is when they have someone like me sharing and being positive, planting seeds so that they may go away and decide how to think and what to do with the seed, either watering it or abandoning that thought. Because in ten years’ time who’s going to be running this community? We need to start now. Strong Indigenous females need to invest in each other and build empires together. How I usually approach this is leading by example because they are always watching whether its good or bad, and we want to leave the good examples behind. How I know it’s successful is because when someone has been influenced by the right people they go back to their homes and their families and start to water the seed, and by the seed being watered the good fruits start to grow and the people they start to influence each other to eat from the good tree. So I always tell the girls, ‘It’s up to youse if youse want to grow in this area’, and follow your dreams. Netball is just the starting point. It’s just like a base that you jump and you get into netball and then you start listening to what I say, the messages that I give to you about working, education, living healthy and young mums and how to grow for your future. I’m that sort of person. It’s not just about the netball, it’s about everything else as well that we need to tackle in the community. Because if you really want something you work hard for it. You can’t just say, ‘I want to become this’ and don’t do the hard yards. Sometimes people don’t want to move away from the comfort zone and that’s the trap. They feel comfortable back in one place, which is okay, but if you want to venture out and find your strength and want to use it in a way to make change then it starts now. And if you really want something you go on those paths even if it means you have to move, or go into Cairns to study, and you tap into some places like that, sign up, pay something, that’s where stuff will start rolling for coaches and players or just in general on following your dreams. Sometimes it can be hard on people though because they’re so used to growing up with family around, where they just walk down the road and ask for sugar and that. And if you go in town you can’t go anywhere. You can’t just go next door. You can’t just go down the road for help. Where Yarrabah everyone’s family. No one’s struggling because they got each other. But if you go live in the mainstream places they become more independent.
22 Shennae Neal—Netball
Maybe it’d be good to have some sort of free clinic, or training in Yarrabah. Because if it’s going to cost a lot and I have to travel to another place to train or something, then that’ll be an issue then. But Indigenous only coaching courses, no. Because how are you supposed to move into the future if you don’t meet with nonIndigenous people. My background with my family is that they’re very political and they fight for Aboriginal rights and that sort of stuff. But this is like a new generation and those non-Indigenous people, they have the access, they get the support, they get the knowledge, the power and they can tap into more services if we work with them, you know what I mean? But you have to plan. Sharon Finnan she came over one time and I just watched how she speak to the girls because when you’re working with Aboriginal or Indigenous people you got to watch how you speak to them and that sort of stuff, and balance yourself sort of thing. So, don’t come across offensive. They just give up and walk out and, you know what I mean, if they get offended by the stuff you say and how you say it to them. So, if you bring in a non-Indigenous person over to talk with the girls then that’s up to myself and that non-Indigenous person to have a conversation before, pre planning before we enter training. It needs to be planned. You need to know what you’re doing, you need to prep that non-Indigenous person up, before you come here. Doing that cultural awareness sort of stuff, before you go and coach someone, so they’re aware that ‘Okay, you won’t say this, you won’t say that’ because every community is different. But you know when you have a passion you have a heart for your community and the people, you need to do all the hard yards first, so it’ll all go smoothly. I get all these challenges in between and the more I approach it in the right way and making good decisions I get through it. I’m born with the drive, but some people don’t have the drive in the beginning but if they get involved in something they will have it, they’ll get that drive then. But in different ways. We are born with this drive, but they may not have that until they sign up or go into training and that sort of stuff, with coaching stuff. Because we’re learning every day. People have different drives every day. But you know every time I watched all these inspiring movies, all these powerful Indigenous people tell what they’ve been through and that sort of stuff, they didn’t make it through going negative. They made it through positive. They’ve walked through that fire. They walked through everyone spitting at them, all this racist stuff happening. That’s the reason why they made it that far because they’ve been through all that. They’ve fought through it!
Bou Ovington—Rugby League
‘“Being Indigenous is a reason to succeed, not an excuse not to.” That’s the quote I’ve always lived by.’ Bou Ovington is a Darug man from Campbelltown, Sydney. He teaches Health and Physical Education and English to high school students in Western Sydney. Bou is an Internationally accredited rugby league coach currently working with community and representative teams, as he has done for more than 10 years.
I basically played every sport I could growing up. I sort of made it a goal when I was in school to try to tick off every single sport in the Primary School Sport Association and I enjoyed every single one. I didn’t want to really just stick to one sport the whole time. I wanted to try to play everything; hockey, cricket, softball and footy—until I got rejected from making the netball team! So I was never able to fulfil that goal in its entirety. Through rugby league I played development age groups with West Magpies. Then when I got to the Under 18s I decided to branch out to the Sydney Roosters SG Ball squad. I was training with them pretty much four times a week. Travelling from Campbelltown to Sydney was a bit of a hassle for my parents who had to drive me, but I had to take the opportunity as best as I could. I enjoyed it massively and I learnt a lot from that experience. Unfortunately, I had a shoulder reconstruction, followed by a knee reconstruction less than 18 months later. I stopped playing rugby league after that. I wasn’t prepared to continually have to go through that. As much as I loved playing footy, I had to prioritise my health. To keep involved, but at a different level—I got into coaching and Oztag. I’m currently captaining the Australian Oztag team that is playing at the World Cup. These have both given me my ‘footy fix.’ Most of my coaching is through rugby league. I’ve been playing that since I was five and now that I’ve gotten older, my dad had started coaching a junior side, and I decided to help him, which has slowly progressed, until now where I’m coaching my own teams. I started with this team of under six-year-olds and essentially just followed them as they’ve gotten older. So I’m still coaching them now, and they’re © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_23
23 Bou Ovington—Rugby League
thirteen. And I’ve also restarted with another group of six-year-olds. I’ve assisted with teams at the Koori Knockout, and more recently I’ve been a part of the development staff of the under 18s Wests Tigers squad. Which again, has been another learning experience for me. I have always been a learner. Whenever a coach was talking to me, I’d really concentrate on how they were telling us to do things and how we would react, and where we did it wrong. I’ve sort of tried to pick up bits and pieces off each coach where I could, to try to be as wholesome, for the kids’ benefit, as I could. So if there was one person that was good at explaining things, I tried to mimic that, and if there was one person that was a better communicator, I’ve tried to mimic that. But in terms of the largest impact, it would be my dad. I learnt about how to communicate with kids at an individual level, rather than pervasively as an entire unit. It humanised the sport for me, rather than talk to everyone at once, I understood the necessity of reaching a kid on a one on one level, and how integral that could be for them, and by extension, the team. I had a coach when I was playing senior footy. He was in the Penrith Panthers system, and I was learning from him. He would treat us the same way he was treating the representative teams. He had a high standard. That was probably the biggest aspect of coaching I learnt from him. If you keep that high standard the kids will try to reach that, and you get the best out of them in the end. For example, with your kickers, you might try and get them to aim for something that would be difficult, like hitting the goal post. That would be the objective. The kids could have up to 20 go’s before they get it. From there, the standard would be to hit the same point numerous times and then be capable of using that accuracy to aim to other parts of field at will. Once they get it for the first time, it’s an opportunity to lift the expectations to try to be better. Most of the time, it’s purely for fun and they don’t actually realise what they’re doing. You learn to understand resilience and persistence. Even in young kids, it’s unbelievable to see the work ethic of some, and recognising it at such a young age, you appreciate that some elements away from what you can coach are embedded already within some. And others, it needs to be built upon. I think having a bit of empathy is important too. I was never the tallest or the biggest kid, so when it comes to these little ones, I can sympathise. I know what it’s like to verse these big units. I’ve had times where I can call upon stories and experiences that are sort of similar. In an attempt to resonate with the kids I coach. Anecdotes from playing in particular situations allow kids to build this personal rapport with you. With kids I’ve coached, I’ve had a lot since they were 5 years old. I’ve had experiences of meaningful conversations that had allowed me to help externally to football. I coached one fella who lost his mum, dad and grandad within 18 months. He now lives with his sister, and he’s gone off the rails doing the wrong things, getting kicked out of school and getting involved with the wrong people. That’s a product of his environment. He’s not a bad kid, and people often forget that. Living close by, he’s often come over to my place to sit, relax, and talk when he’s been upset or angry. My mum, who coincidentally was a teacher of his at primary
23 Bou Ovington—Rugby League
school has even cooked him dinner and he’s sat with us and eaten. And something small like that—giving up your time and showing empathy—really makes a big difference. For me, I think being relatively young from the stereotypical coach, I’m not so old that the kids don’t want to avoid me outside of training times. I’m at a level where they can respect me as a coach, but then after that they’re fine to muck around which makes it a fun environment. I’ve had kids who live around the corner, and they were going to play knock and run on my doorstep one day just to see if I’d chase them, I ended up catching them and then it turned into a big footy game against me on my front lawn. There were about 10 kids playing touch footy, I guess they just wanted to hang out just as much as play a prank on me. I’ve always tried to know my audience. I wouldn’t talk to a six-year-old, the same as I would a fifteen-year-old. Same goes for parents. As an Aboriginal man, I’ve coached other Aboriginal people and they would be unreal. Athleticism and skills that were advanced for their age, but, then you’d see them go for a cigarette after training. Being the Koori Knockout, I treated it as a representative squad; therefore we had to have these conversations about healthy lifestyles and their impact on footy. The response I received was: What can you do, if that’s what they do?
It really disappointed me. These players could have been anything. The potential was there, but their expectations weren’t. I’ve always tried to preach about health and positive decisions. As cliché as it sounds, I knew at that point that as a coach, it was my responsibility to ensure that I need to consider everything, not just football. I’ve always joked that I’m a life coach because football’s not the be-all and endall. Statistically, not everyone’s going to be a professional footballer. And I’ve got a few kids that are just obsessed with football, kind of similar to what I was back in the day. I was being entitled and wanted to be a rugby league player so much, and worked so hard, that I believed I should get it, purely because I thought I deserved it. It was this arrogance that probably helped my work ethic, but it also held me back. Like I mentioned earlier, I got injured. This happened while I was still at school. Without footy, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. At this point, my maths teacher taught me about considering things outside of sport. It was okay to want to work for something, but you can still be prepared for others. It was this teacher that altered my mindset. I kept the same work ethic, I just applied it to something else. A few kids who have a similar mindset to what I did and coincidentally, go to my old high school. I’ve spoken to the same teacher and asked him to look after them as he did with me. Effort towards something you want shouldn’t be discouraged, but we still have a role to play in encouraging kids to get the best for themselves. That’s our role as a coach—to get the best out of our players. It doesn’t need to be just rugby league. There was a quote that stuck with me when I was in high school: Being Indigenous is a reason to succeed, not an excuse not to.
23 Bou Ovington—Rugby League
That’s the quote I’ve always lived by. My Aboriginality is the reason I want to succeed in everything that I do. That’s my choice. I choose to do my best, for myself, my family and my people. I resonate with that quote. I want it to be for those reasons that I do succeed. I represent the oldest living culture on Earth, and that’s an honour I take very seriously.
‘And I just think it’s important as a coach, if you’re coaching Indigenous girls or Indigenous people like that, to ensure that they give themselves some credit.’ Courtney Ugle is a Noongar woman who works and who plays AFL for Essendon Football Club. She played in the inaugural VFLW season. She is a level 1 AFL coach and has coached for the Woomeras and in the Kirby Bentley and Kick Start Carnivals. She has previously worked in the community sector as a support worker at Djirra, and a mentor and caseworker for SMYL.
I’m a proud Noongar woman from Western Australia. My dad’s family are from Beverley, a small town up in the Wheat Belt, and my mum’s family is from the South West, Bunbury. At a young age my mum and dad split up, so I moved to Bunbury with mum. I was to and from Beverley all the time to be with dad and his family, but grew up predominately in Bunbury with a very family orientated society. And especially being Aboriginal, all of the mob knew everyone. So I was constantly surrounded by family at school and more importantly at sporting events, because if it wasn’t my sporting event, it was my brother or my sisters. Sport played a massive role in my life because (1), I enjoyed it—I loved that environment, that really tight-knit environment and (2), I suppose I used it as therapy just to get me out of some of my own mental struggles and some struggles I was having at home. When I lost my dad at the age of 12, things became different for my family and I. My brother was very sporty in all areas, but football being the main one, and he was the one I looked up to. He had a goal to play AFL, and he made it happen in 2012 when he got drafted to Collingwood. He was definitely that role model when it came to footy. And my first ever game, when I played state under 16s, I didn’t actually have my own boots, so I borrowed my brother’s! They were so much bigger than my foot, I actually had to wear a couple of socks to make them fit, and still—to this day—I wear two, three socks a game, every game, every training session. It’s something I haven’t been about to let go of [laughs]. But my older sister Skye was very supportive in anything I did. She played basketball, netball and rugby. And one of my most significant memories with footy is playing Senior League footy for © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7_24
24 Courtney Ugle—AFL
Swan District with my little sister Maddison and winning a premiership. That was something that was really special for me. But it wasn’t until I was 15 when I heard about the state competition and I was friends with one of the girls who took me to the tryouts up in Perth. I didn’t know too much about footy at that stage because there was no league for women or even young girls, so I grew up mostly playing netball and basketball. But I was able to secure a spot in the 2012 State Under 16s and it was like a whole new world out there because I had no idea about any of this, being so limited to what we had in Bunbury. Then I got selected for the Peel Thunder Talent Academy and I was travelling every weekend up to Perth. That was the hardest year for me because I found this new love for football, it was something that I wanted to dedicate myself to, but obviously having Year 12, I wanted to graduate as well. So I’d be leaving school early on a Wednesday, getting up to Perth for training, getting back by 10:30, 11:00 at night, then going back to school, and then back up to Perth on the weekend. I mean it really was challenging, but managed to get through with the support from the Girls Academy. I graduated with Honours, and I won the Sportsman of the Year award, so I mean all the hard work was all worth it. Then after I graduated, I moved straight to Perth [laughs]. No hesitation at all. You know, home life was challenging at times, often in and out of mates’ places, constantly traveling to Perth to play football, so I was fine with moving away to the city. I did my full-time traineeship at Swan District Football Club, and decided I wanted to get somewhere with footy, I wanted to do great things. Again, growing up, losing dad at the age of 12 and not having my mum around as much as I wanted, I kind of knew what life I didn’t want. I knew that I wouldn’t gain as many opportunities if I stayed in Bunbury. I also just didn’t want to be in Bunbury. But I’ll let you know, I didn’t jump straight into League footy. I had a lot of developing to do. I needed to get fit, I needed to learn the game, and I needed more experience. I definitely wasn’t fit, nor did I put the right things into my body. I didn’t have the body shape or fitness for this competitive football, because you’re playing against some of the best in Australia. So that was a massive driver for me to just want to get better, because it was like, ‘wow this is a real thing’. I went on to get selected to play for under 18s two years in a row. I was a part of the team that beat the Victorians for the first time in 2014 which was a great experience, team and culture to be a part of. I then went on to play State under 23s and was the first ever Indigenous captain to captain a state representative side, so that was another incredible moment for me. But then after the death of my mum in 2016 I was really trying to find the love for footy in the sense that I had to figure out whether I was going to give it 100% or nothing at all. And it was a really easy decision to make, but I also felt like I wasn’t really getting any better. We’d had the same coach, who was one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had—Nicole Graves—but I felt like I needed a new environment, a new set of fresh eyes, new opinions, new ideas and stuff. So I just kind of made the decision that I was ready for a change and spoke to some footy mates over here in Melbourne and just said, ‘do you know anyone that’s looking for a little, small, midfield, halfback player?’ And that move has been one of the most
24 Courtney Ugle—AFL
rewarding and best things I’ve done—in a sense, selfishly—for myself, because it was massive to leave my family to chase my dreams, I suppose. I mean there have been challenges. Like my first year at Essendon I didn’t actually get selected to play round one. But I absolutely respect that decision because I’m a big believer in earning your stripes. And when I moved here, I didn’t have a job either. I thought that with the connection I had with the AFL I was going to be able to fall into a job, given the networks, which wasn’t the case at all unfortunately. I went three months unemployed and I had no money in the bank, which was very hard. I remember just one day sitting in my car, crying, thinking, ‘what have I done’? But then I got an opportunity with Djirra, an Aboriginal family legal service and I was working in their program called Young Love. We would go around and deliver workshops promoting healthy relationships, which is something I was really passionate about, given my personal experience with mum and losing her to domestic violence. And it was great because it allowed me to meet so many different community members here and learn more about community. It’s so different to WA. The Noongar people cover such a large area of Western Australia, whereas here in Vic, in the metro area where I live, it’s Wurundjeri Country, but then you drive out into country and its Yorta Yorta land, you know, just one hour out. So it was very different to me, and what I was so use to back home. It was a priority to learn about the Aboriginal peoples here in Vic, given that this isn’t my Country. I always pay my respects wherever I am, and knew that if I was living here it was important to know whose land I was on. I’m really thankful that Djirra allowed me to do that. But when Essendon offered me a role working with the young kids through the Next Generation Academy, I knew it was my dream job. Whilst I was really passionate about that space with Aboriginal women, I moved here for footy and that was my priority. So I left Djirra gracefully. They were very supportive. The best part of the job at Essendon was working with the Tiwi Women’s pathway program. Managing that program has been incredible. The Tiwi Islands itself is just a beautiful place and the talent that comes out of that Island is second to none. When they wanted me to drive that program, I got the same sense I did when I was coaching Aboriginal girls in the Kickstart competition. I knew I could be that big sister that just wants to care and nurture and really encourage them to (1), believe in themselves, and (2), help them transition, because essentially you are living in two worlds when you’re living in a remote community on the Tiwi Islands and you come into the city. It’s like another world. My coaching experience began when I was working at Swan Districts. Because I was working there and it’s a footy club, you can put someone forward for a coaching gig or whatever. So I remember doing some small coaching gigs for youth girls in little carnivals and running programs, like your general skills. And then I got asked to coach the Kirby Bentley Carnival. It’s a massive carnival. There’s about 250–300 girls who participate from all regions all over WA. Obviously, it’s all Indigenous and that was so much fun. Having these young girls look up to you was a good feeling. And selectors go around to all the games and select girls for the Kick Start program. It’s a national carnival for female Indigenous players that haven’t played at State level. It’s a development program for players but also for coaches, and mentoring
24 Courtney Ugle—AFL
Indigenous girls is something I’m so passionate about so I obviously took it straight on. So we were lucky enough to go to Darwin and Northern Territory for the carnival. We landed a day early because it obviously got the girls to gel and bond a bit more in the build-up to the carnival. I got to know a few of the other girls personally as well and it was good because I got that respect that I’d wanted. And they were coming to me with personal things and they didn’t only accept me as a coach, they accepted me as a mentor and a big sister too. And one of the guys, the managers that came from WA was like, ‘Oh, we should change your name to head counsellor and not head coach’. We took a fair few young girls and they did an amazing job over there. I mean we got all the way to the grand finals, and these girls had never played with each other. For them to gel as much as they did over that one week, I was just blown away. And this is why I took the kids straight on was because I wanted to give back what I had learnt, and what I had developed, and what I experienced. Because these girls, once they opened up to me and started talking to me about personal stuff, it was like I was looking at myself because a lot of the things that they’d gone through, very similar to me. So like one of the young girls, she’s under DCP care, because her mum was in jail and where she was living wasn’t a healthy environment for her. I mean this young girl is the most well-respected, well-mannered, you know, she has her whole life ahead of her. But I could understand how that came across because I’ve been through a very similar situation. And I kept saying, ‘Oh, but do you feel like this? And has this happened?’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, like I didn’t think anyone would have been through the same thing’. And in terms of understanding the way we are culturally and what to say to those young girls, being Indigenous is, it just makes the communication side of things easier. They’re so vulnerable and if you say the wrong thing, they can take it the wrong way, you know. Like I had a few of the girls who I went to inter-state with who came down and ran a few fitness drills with my girls. And you could definitely see the different types of communication, because my friends were like, ‘I hope I don’t say anything that offends the girls’, or, ‘I don’t come across as…’ you know. Being the only Noongar within that group of footy girls they obviously picked up on a lot of things, which is what’s appropriate and what’s not. But for me, I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone that I wasn’t. I could speak how I’d normally speak. I could say things like, words that obviously Aboriginals say, like a few of our cultural words and what not, and they’d understand me. And in the huddles, I could talk as if I was talking to my little sisters. Like in our last game, we were going in against Northern Territory who were just absolutely demolishing every other team, so we obviously had a game cut out for us. And what I told the girls was to write a name, someone’s name down on their wrist and I told them to dedicate their game to someone. And again, culturally you would normally, like a lot of the girls pick people that had passed away or just someone that they really look up to. So before we had gone out, I’d do this massive speech and was like, ‘look at this person, like that’s your family. We’re not playing for our state, we’re playing for our culture, like all our Blackfellas at home are watching us’, and
24 Courtney Ugle—AFL
I kept saying, ‘We’re Blackfellas, like we’ve got that fight in us’. Obviously with all the drama, all the stuff that had gone back home I’d said to them, ‘Take it in and use it in the game, like all that sadness you’re feeling from the loss of your uncle or the loss of your cousin, take it out in this game now, you know. Do it within the rules of the game. We can do it. You know that you can’. And so from the Kickstart program I was put forward to be an assistant coach for the Woomera program, which is not just girls from WA, but Aboriginal girls from all over the country. That was very exciting because I was still only a very young coach and had so much to learn. And I had a year as head coach and then a year as the program manager for the Woomera program. That was a real compliment because I actually didn’t know what it meant to be a program manager! I was twenty years old maybe! And after that they put me forward for the AFL Multicultural and Indigenous All Stars Program and if we want to talk about my favourite year of coaching, that was probably one of them because the girls were … how do I explain it? They were just incredible, the way they clicked and how grateful they all were. And I think what drove that was their hunger to know more about other cultures outside their own. One of the reasons I wanted to coach, going back to my early days, was because I know what it’s like to have role models to look up to and I really want to be that person for others because I knew the significance it had on me and I knew it would have the same impact on younger Aboriginal girls, but not even just the Aboriginal girls, non-Indigenous girls as well. You can see when you talk about your home life, the upbringing you’ve had, the struggles you’ve faced, you capture the audience of some Aboriginal girls because they can relate. And once they see someone that is just like them but has gone on to do some really cool things, they can give them the ‘if-she-can-I-can’ type thing. There are so many Indigenous people out there that have so much skill and ability but don’t necessarily have that support and drive, and don’t have that family support, or little things like transport to get into training, the appropriate clothing in terms of footwear, like sporting clothes, and sports bras and stuff like that. And sometimes, once they go down the wrong track, well they do, it’s very easy to be influenced by a lot of different people. Yeah, so that’s a lot of the reason why I think Indigenous people are starting to get involved in coaching because we can provide that support and we understand in a way that maybe non-Indigenous don’t understand sometimes. And I just think it’s important as a coach, if you’re coaching Indigenous girls or Indigenous people like that, to ensure that they give themselves some credit. That’s what I kept saying to the girls when we went away for Kickstart. ‘This is not about me. I’m here for you girls’. And when I told the girls to dedicate their game to someone, one of the young ones come up to me and said, ‘I want to dedicate this game to you’, and I said, ‘Well, why is that?’ and she said, ‘oh, you’ve gotten me this far, and I wouldn’t have done it without you’, and I said, ‘take a bit more credit because you’re the one that’s running out there. You’re the one that’s laying those tackles and doing everything that I’ve asked you. Take some credit because there’s only so much I can tell you. It’s up to you, and you’ve done exactly that’.
These are intimate stories about sports coaching. They are fragments of life, captured in a few moments in time. But as a collection, these narratives also yarn a bigger story about social, political, and cultural change in sport. In this epilogue, we provide further historical detail about this changing sporting landscape and reflect on the role Aboriginal sport coaches have played, and continue to play, in shaping it. When these stories began, Aboriginal sporting teams were still formed on missions, stations and reserves. Aboriginal sportswomen and men played representative sport, while governments forcibly removed Aboriginal children from their communities. They were selected in State teams but couldn’t vote in State elections. They played and coached while governed by assimilatory, discriminatory and violent policies. When the older generation of coaches in this book led teams into grand final matches, Country was not acknowledged, Welcome to Country was not even sought. Sporting institutions had no Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs), nor any specific policies or programs designed to make their organisations more culturally inclusive. There were no identified positions (or targets) for Aboriginal managers, administrators, and officials. And as many coaches in this book recall, Aboriginal sportspeople often played, trained, and coached in public spaces where racist slurs were common-place and went unchecked by the organisations they played for. For subsequent generations of coaches coming through the ranks, the sporting landscape might look different. Acknowledgements of Country and Welcome to Country are heard at select sporting events. Most major sporting institutions have or intend to create RAPs, overseen by Indigenous Councils (NRL) and Indigenous Advisory Boards (AFL). A Cobble Cobble Aboriginal woman is one of the Australian Rugby League Commissioners, and a Torres Strait Islander woman is the AFL’s General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy. Aboriginal sporting events like the Koori Knockout and the Murri Rugby League Carnival are televised, and the Yokayi Footy show on NITV (National Indigenous Television) champions Indigenous perspectives on AFL. There are Indigenous focussed sporting organisations
© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7
and programs including the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (Union), the John Moriarty Football program, the Evonne Goolagong Foundation (Tennis), the Charles Perkins Soccer Academy, the Deadly Choices programs and the Eddie Gilbert Cricket Program. There is an Indigenous Marathon Foundation and Athletics for the Outback. And Aboriginal sporting clubs and teams like the Redfern All Blacks (Rugby League), Fitzroy Stars Football and Netball Club, Koonibba Roosters (AFL), Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Thunder (Softball), and the Airds Lyrebirds (Netball) are thriving in communities across the continent. There are sport and cultural centres and resources, like NASCA (National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy), NCIE (National Centre of Indigenous Excellence), the KARI Foundation, Clontarf Foundation and AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience). There are others too, such as EITAAP (the Elite Indigenous Travel and Assistance Program), the Indigenous Sports Grants Program, and State and Territory based Indigenous Sport and Recreation Programs. Plus, a host of local initiatives including the Garnduwa sporting programs, Red Dust (health promotion, sport and mentoring), Nyoongar Wellbeing and Sports, and the Yulunga Traditional Indigenous Games education resource. In the last two decades, coaches have seen the introduction of Indigenous sporting carnivals and events that showcase, and provide developmental pathways for, Aboriginal athletes and coaches. The Nicky Winmar Carnival (AFL), Kirby Bentley Cup (AFL), Laurie Lowery Generation Cup (multi-sport), and Zenadth Kes Cup (Rugby League, Thursday Island) offer opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Major sporting codes have Indigenous rounds and Indigenous All-star teams (Rugby League and AFL) along with an Australian Indigenous Women’s team (Rugby League). There is an annual Indigenous Soccer Week and the National Indigenous Football Championships. And more recently, there are specific Indigenous coaching programs and pathways in AFL, Basketball, Football, Surfing, Athletics, Netball, and Rugby League. But without the stories of Aboriginal coaches, we can’t understand the changes that have taken place in sport in this country, and the work that has taken place to get us here. The changes, programs, initiatives, and events listed above haven’t appeared out of thin air. The foundations for these changes have been set by Aboriginal coaches, players, administrators, and activists. Social and political change is the result of their tireless work to make policies better and sporting spaces more inclusive. In their daily grind, at trainings and on match day, on sporting fields and in clubhouses, Aboriginal coaches are educating their players, fellow coaches, administrators and spectators, about the value of Aboriginal communities and cultural practices. They teach connections to the past that keep alive the present. And through these conversations and activities, coaches are changing the practices of clubs and organisations. Their bottom-up interventions into the sporting landscape are reconstituting Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships. They are changing sporting norms, cultures and customs. However, as many coaches in this book lament, relationships between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous families and communities are still marred by misunderstanding and ignorance about Aboriginal ways of knowing, living and being. Aboriginal
leaders still battle resistant boards and discriminatory policies. We still live on Stolen Lands and on lands stolen from us and from our ancestors. There is still work to be done. So where does this leave us? Where to next? The narratives in this book are telling and instructive on this front. The calls are clear. We need more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sports coaches. Sporting organisations, at local, regional, state and national levels, must prioritise development pathways and give particular attention to programs for female coaches. At the same time, there needs to be greater material investment in professional pathways for Indigenous administrators and officials. It is also an imperative that sporting organisations commit to embedding Indigenous knowledges around cultural renewal and rejuvenation—with respect to Country—into their mainstream sporting programs. These knowledges must become a core aspect of the day to day functioning of sporting organisations. Sporting organisations must work to provide culturally safe spaces and culturally competent programs. This means enhancing RAPs so they pay more than just lip-service to their commitments to reconciliation, and stay true to their function—as action plans. But we have another hope to share as we conclude this book. Given there is so little material available about Indigenous sports coaches, it is a pressing political concern that we hear more from them. While engaged sports lovers may have some idea about the critical role Indigenous coaches play in communities, there is so much more to learn about their contributions. We need more people to write stories with and about Indigenous coaches and their coaching experiences and we need diverse forms of media to share these experiences. There needs to be more books and journal articles, podcasts and radio interviews, documentaries and TV shows—that saturate the mainstream. Because today, we play and train on the same sporting fields, courts and ovals. We get dressed in the same sheds; we warm the same benches and sit in the same stadia. Without the stories of these Aboriginal coaches, we can’t understand the history of sport in this country and the work that has taken place to get us here. But we need more stories to shape a different future, to avoid the mistakes and injustices of the past. We have a collective responsibility to listen to the stories of Aboriginal sporting leaders, to better understand the shared and contested history of sport on these lands of hurt and healing.
About the Authors and Their Personal Acknowledgements
Demelza Marlin I have Anglo-Celtic and Wiradjuri heritage, of which I am very proud. I grew up in Randwick on Bidgigal lands in a house where sport and politics dominated family discussion. It took me a long time to get to Indigenous Studies and the study of Aboriginal sport and culture. My passion for this work has grown alongside my understanding of my own family’s history, and its intersection with the history of invasion, dispossession, reconnection, and revival on these lands. Firstly, I would like to thank Nick and Andrew—my colleagues, collaborators, and dear friends. This has been a very personal journey for me. I doubt I could have walked this path without your support, respectful patience, and encouragement. I would also like to thank Andrew and Ann for introducing me to the narrative practice I now think of as ‘storywork’; Phil Duncan for his support in a fragile and exciting time; my dad, whose entertaining stories about sport have inspired my life-long interest in it; my beautiful partner Sam, and gorgeous children Rufus and Heidi, for being patient with me when I had to work through ‘family time’ and for sharing the joys of this project. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the resilience of my mother, grandmother, and great-aunty. They lived through very hard times. They did what they needed to do to survive and stayed strong for their children. Mandaang guwu. Nicholas Apoifis I grew up and now work on Bidgigal lands (at UNSW), and I live on Gadigal lands, Eora Nation. My parents and grandparents were migrants and refugees who fled Greece. They ended up in colonised Australia, on Stolen Lands. I materially benefit from this. Thanks: To Dee and AB, for being fantastic colleagues and friends; to my folks, for everything; to Cyril, for the memories; to Maddo, for her love and relentless support; to Djarwan for listening and encouraging (and Alex), and Tim G for enthusiasm and care; to Boff and Proxy, for the ride; to Timmy and Weens, for the joys; to Alex, Sarah, and Pella, for their warmth; to Lloyd and Gvt, Aleko and Gem, for their friendship and guidance; to Phill, Will, Na’ama, and Lana, for their chats; to Jamie and Olivier, for meetings and playtime; and to Annie, for being the best. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020 D. Marlin et al., Aboriginal Sports Coaches, Community, and Culture, Indigenous-Settler Relations in Australia and the World 2, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8481-7
About the Authors and Their Personal Acknowledgements
Andrew Bennie I am a descendant of Slovakian and Scottish migrants who made their way on Cammeraygal Country. My childhood was filled by playing as many sports as possible and my passion for sport extended into university studies in health, physical education, and sport coaching. My connection and commitment to Indigenous sport and education developed while working with Indigenous students at university and through NASCA’s community sport programs where I learned more about the truth, strength, and resilience of global Indigenous cultures. Thanks to mum and dad for your unwavering interest and support. Mike and Marc; ‘cause there are no others like the Bennie brothers. Meek, Zoe, and Scott; for your patience and accepting me, as me. Nick and D; for thinking differently to me, filling gaps in my knowledge, and for your humour and support throughout this project. And to the Indigenous coaches, athletes, and academics who’ve so willingly shared, gently guided, and firmly directed my learnings; thank you.