Aboriginal sport

Explore a timeline of Aboriginal sport or a list of traditional Australian Aboriginal games, statistics and Aboriginal AFL and NRL players.

Selected statistics

Number of Aboriginal players officially registered in Australia in 2017. Total number of players: 1,086,986.
Year Lionel Morgan became the first Aboriginal person to play rugby league for Australia. He was booed and pelted by objects.
Year an Indigenous All Star team played the best non-Indigenous rugby league players. The venue sold out and gained live TV coverage.
Percentage of Aboriginal Australian adults participating in sport and physical activity. Same figure for all Australian adults: 65%.
Proportion of players in the NRL who are Aboriginal in 2014.
Proportion of players in the AFL who are Aboriginal in 2017 . Same figure in early 2011: 12% , in 2008: 10% , in 1995: 5%.
Proportion of Aboriginal players in the State of Origin.
Proportion of Aboriginal players in the Test team.
Number of Aboriginal players in the A-League (professional men's soccer) in 2017 (Jade North).
Number of Aboriginal players in the W-League (professional women's soccer) in 2017 (Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon).
Proportion of Aboriginal people of the Australian population.
Proportion of Indigenous State of Origin players in Queensland's players since 1980.
Number of Aboriginal players across 18 AFL teams in 2017.
Number of Aboriginal players in Rugby Union in 2017.

List of articles

Sport keeps people out of trouble, self-harm

Aboriginal people have always played sport. Before invasion they knew a broad variety of traditional games, and today many Aboriginal athletes excel in their discipline.

Sport is also necessary for Aboriginal communities as never before. Research has found that sport helps reduce violence, keeps youth out of serious trouble and is essential to counter the moral despair of many Aboriginal people.

Depression and Aboriginal suicide rates, escalating in the early 2000s, can be brought down if people participate in sport activities by as much as 25% and 12% respectively.

In many communities sport provides a sense of belonging and a feeling of coherence, something to stand for. Providing meaning and purpose, sport takes young peoples' minds off suicidal thoughts.

If anything else transcends race, intolerance or discrimination, it is sport.

— Steve Stacey, Executive Officer Nyoongar Sports Association Malaga, Western Australia

Sport was the first pathway that embraced Aboriginal people and gave them the opportunity to compete on an equal playing field.

— Michael O'Loughlin, Aboriginal AFL player

Aboriginal soccer

The inaugural Indigenous Football Festival was held in Townsville, Queensland, in July 2009. It is a first attempt to get Aboriginal Australians to embrace soccer. The festival targeted mainly young socceroos who played matches, attended coaching clinics and team-building activities.

In May 2009 the Borroloola Cyclones, a team of 15–18-year-old Aboriginal youth, became the first all-Indigenous soccer team to play an international match during the Arafura Games, held every two years in Darwin, Northern Territory. Because Aussie rules is the dominant football code in the Territory, soccer is referred to as 'round-ball'. Borroloola is about 950 kms south-east of Darwin.

National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy

The National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) is an Aboriginal-governed, non-profit organisation which was founded in 1995 by Ngarabal Rugby League champion David Liddiard, and set up as a mentoring initiative. It works with close to 1,500 young people and their communities annually.

With structured sporting and cultural programs it supports Aboriginal children achieve their sporting and academic goals and possibly becoming a sports star in their field.

NASCA aims to reduce social inequalities evident across Aboriginal communities by partnering with socially engaged sports people and other professionals and organisations. It uses Aboriginal knowledge, community buy-in and strength-focused programs to address young Aboriginal people's needs. By working within schools it helps inspire their students to excel in the field they most identify with and be proud of their Aboriginal identity.

[NASCA] teaches kids not to shy away from being Aboriginal, to embrace it, be proud of it and excel in whatever they do.

— Joel McCall, senior student at Marrickville High School, Academy Program participant

One of the ways you can help NASCA is to volunteer with them in the Northern Territory or get your workplace involved.

National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA)
160 George Street,
Redfern, NSW 2016
Phone: 02 8399 3071
Fax: 02 8088 6640
Email: [email protected]


View article sources (6)

[1] [1a] [1b] [1c] 'Football missing out on indigenous talent', SMH 31/3/2017
[2] '$325,000 to sport', Koori Mail 493 p.77
[3] [3a] [3b] 'War cry to unit team and country', Sun Herald 2/2/2014
[4] [4a] 'McLeod tells UN of victory over racism', Koori Mail 494 p.4
[5] 'AFL's 150th year a worthy celebration', Koori Mail 438 p.80
[6] [6a] 'Rugby union has an image problem in Indigenous Australia', The Guardian Australia, 21/7/2017

Cite this page

Korff, J 2019, Aboriginal sport, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/sport>, retrieved 25 July 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

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