Australian football legend recognised at FIFA Diversity Award 2018

There was an Australian first unfurling at the FIFA DIVERSITY AWARD 2018 overnight in London, where John Moriarty Football (JMF) finished in a prestigious top three placing.

Accepting the Finalist’s award at the FIFA ceremony, JMF Co-Founder John Moriarty shared his own story of the power of football to cut through discrimination and exclusion to enable a different life.

The football program named for Moriarty reflects his own journey as the first Aboriginal footballer selected for Australia.

Described by FIFA as powerful recognition of diversity and anti-discrimination values through football, the FIFA Diversity Award 2018 winner was announced as Kenya’s Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI).

JMF was one of three finalists, the first Australian organisation to achieve the honour. The other was UK/Ireland’s Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).

JMF is in its seventh year of continuous delivery in remote communities. The program brings together 6-16-year-old children through football, promoting education, good health and wellbeing in some of the country’s most socially challenged regions. JMF enables families and communities to unlock their children’s potential – in life and in sport.

“An important part of our mission is allowing these children to become an individual with a clear vision and aspiration so they can see the future themselves” said John Moriarty.

“The game did so much for me, and I hope football can bring a brighter future to the young players our program works with.

John Moriarty Football is a grassroots delivery to more than 100 children in the remote NT communities of Borroloola and Robinson Rive, and the program is set to expand to more locations.

A Sydney scholarships program has piloted elite football pathways for five young players since 2015. Inaugural scholarship holder, 17-year-old Shay Evans, became the first JMF footballer to be selected for Australia when she debuted for the Young Matildas in April 2018.

JMF Leadership Team member Fiona Hekking told the FIFA audience in London that JMF prepares young players in the program to be the best they can possibly be in school, in sport and in life.

“We show them we believe in their unique talents and strengths and support them with our wellbeing methodologies, mentoring and connected relationships,” she said.

“We apply our principles equally to our grassroots players, as well as those of our athletes with the potential to represent nationally and internationally. The majority of children in our program will use football simply for a healthier physical, social, mental and emotional future.”


About John Moriarty Football

John Moriarty Football (JMF) leads the way in Indigenous football in Australia, using the sport as a constant in children’s lives to create a grassroots environment for change.

It is a program delivered by the Moriarty Foundation, a not-for-profit initiative that enables Aboriginal families and communities to unlock the potential of their children.

The for-purpose entity is co-chaired by John Moriarty and Ros Moriarty, the founders of Balarinji, the design studio best known for covering Qantas aircraft with Aboriginal art.

John Moriarty’s football career and love of the game led to him co-founding the JMF initiative in 2011 with his son James. John played football for South Australian First Division teams Port Thistle and Adelaide Juventus before playing for Adelaide Croatia. He represented the State of South Australia 17 times, and in 1960, became the first recognised Indigenous Australian to be selected for a national soccer team.

The Hong Kong Tour where he would debut was cancelled after Australia’s expulsion from FIFA, and his career ended shortly afterwards in a collision with a goalkeeper. After retiring, Moriarty served on the board of Adelaide Juventus (now Adelaide United).