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Jamie Archibald Takes the Lead: Coaching Indigenous Talent at the 2023 NAIDOC Cup

Jamie Archibald, a Gumbaynggir Gamilaraay man, has shifted his focus to coaching a new soccer team participating in the NAIDOC Cup, which is considered one of the biggest events for Indigenous youth in football. Previously involved in professional surfing, Oztag, and rugby league, Archibald sees this opportunity as a way to put Indigenous football back on the map. The cup, organized by the Northern NSW Football Association and Football NSW, brings together First Nations players from across the state for a three-day competition. This year, the event has expanded to include under-14 boys and girls teams, as well as an under-16 division.

For Archibald, being selected as the coach for the first under-14s Northern NSW football team is a significant honor. He believes that the NAIDOC Cup is about bringing Indigenous communities together through a shared love for football while recognizing each other's strengths and culture. Archibald, who grew up in a tight-knit Indigenous community in Newcastle, was surrounded by sports-loving Indigenous students during his time at Cardiff High School. Although he initially pursued a career in rugby league, he eventually shifted his focus and moved to Port Macquarie.

As a coach, Archibald finds fulfillment in helping young players develop their skills and witnessing their growth on and off the field. While winning is a bonus, his primary goal is to impart knowledge and see the players implement it during the games. The NAIDOC Cup provides professional pathways for aspiring players like Zac Swain, a Gumbaynggir teenager, who sees this competition as a significant step toward his dream of playing football professionally. Swain appreciates the support from Archibald and the opportunity to connect with other Indigenous players who share a passion for soccer.

Beyond professional development, the NAIDOC Cup offers a valuable opportunity for players to deepen their connection with their culture and country. The players engage in conversations about their respective Indigenous backgrounds, fostering a sense of camaraderie and understanding among them. Archibald is impressed by the skills and enthusiasm displayed by the young athletes, some of whom have experience playing in the National Premier League system. The NAIDOC Cup not only brings professionalism to their game but also serves as a platform for cultural learning and appreciation.

The 2023 NAIDOC Cup takes place at Sydney's Valentines Park and will conclude on July 6. The event provides a showcase for Indigenous youth in football and celebrates their passion, talent, and dedication to the sport.

Read the full article here.

Photo Courtesy ABC News

Courtesy ABC News

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