HEALTH, PEOPLE -

Former Socceroo shifts focus to improving First Nations lives

A triumphant small-town hero, Jade North, former captain of the Socceroos, is the newly appointed ambassador for GIVIT’s National Indigenous Support Program (NISP).

GIVIT is a national online not-for-profit that connects those in need with those willing to give. The NISP, launched in 2019, has connected with 225 Indigenous support organisations across Australia providing items to improve the health and wellbeing of First Nations Peoples.

North, born and raised in Taree, NSW is a proud father and Biripi man. He made history becoming the Socceroos first Indigenous captain, competing at the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games and receiving the 2016 NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year award.

Speaking of his journey to becoming the NISP Ambassador, North revealed soccer was the connecting factor.

“One of the girls in the office, her kids played soccer with my son. She approached me, she knew who I was … they have the Indigenous arm of the business and they asked if I’d like to be an ambassador for it considering the stuff I do in the community,” North said.

“I’m incredibly excited to be part of GIVIT’s Indigenous program, that asks our communities across Australia exactly what our most vulnerable people need to improve their situation”

Despite the difficult circumstances brought by COVID-19, North said GIVIT has kept going through the pandemic and that he is proud to be part of the organisation’s efforts.

“[GIVIT has] been affected by all of this at the moment as well, they’ve had to shut down the Brisbane Office – everyone is working from home at the moment.

“For now, a lot of [Brisbane] charities are not taking donations which you can imagine is [what has to be done]. It is affecting everyone, but it’s up to the Government now,” North said.

Adding GIVIT to his already full schedule, North is also an ambassador for the Mini Roos, the Leukaemia Foundation, Mental Awareness Foundation, the Indigenous Games and the Indigenous Football Championships.

He also started his own not-for-profit, Kickin’ with a Cuz; a program that empowers disadvantaged Indigenous kids through soccer.

“Doing clinics [is] no cost whatsoever, it’s just me providing my time, to give back to the kids and the community.”

“I think you have to start with the kids, if you start with them you can guide them and teach them.”

“There are many things that sport can teach, from little thing to respect, being on time, breaking down those barriers – it’s a range of different things football provides.

“Whatever code you play you can love sport, it’s a good connector with young kids and that is something that I have always believed in and something I like to teach kids, it’s not just about kicking the ball around, there’s a lot more that goes behind it.”

Growing up in a fractured family and braving battles in his own life, North has found sport as a release and a way to forge forward in life.

“Obviously, sport has been everything for me. It’s always … guided me, it has taught me a lot about who I am today.

“It’s been a good ride, I’ve finished playing top-level now but it has turned into things like GIVIT and opportunities after football and [I’ve] been really turning that into something I can now focus on and really strive … it’s something I love doing.”

GIVIT CEO Sarah Tennant said she was thrilled to welcome such a strong figure in the sporting and Indigenous community as the charity’s Indigenous Ambassador.

“Jade’s passion to make a real difference will be life-changing for the hundreds of Indigenous charities and communities we support across the country,” Tennant said.

“We can’t wait to assist even more people through our growing Indigenous program. With Jade as our Indigenous Ambassador, we hope to raise awareness of our life changing program and inspire more people to donate items or funds to better the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in our cities, as well as rural and remote communities.”

In a time of panic and uncertainty, North returns to a principle that drives what he does, the principle to look after one another.

“Stay safe, look after your family and your friends. Listen to [the information], everything is hour by hour, day by day at the moment so it is just staying positive.”

“Reach out to people in need if you can help … It’s getting in contact with people, making sure they are okay and reaching out with support because it could be months until we find out what is going to happen.”

By Rachael Knowles

The post Former Socceroo shifts focus to improving First Nations lives appeared first on National Indigenous Times.


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