Aboriginal Football in Australia: Race Relations and the Socio-historical Meanings of the 2014 Borroloola Tour to the Brazil World Cup

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of the History of Sport, 2017, pp. 1 - 20
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This paper tells the history of the Borroloola Tour to the 2014 Brazil World Cup, when eight Aboriginal adolescent footballers from the remote town of Borroloola in Australia’s Northern Territory were selected to be part of a tour to Brazil. In Brazil they followed the Australian team from the stands, socialized with football idols such as Tim Cahill, and visited a Brazilian Indigenous tribe. John Moriarty, the first Aboriginal Australian to be selected to Australia’s national football team executed this excursion. Considering that race relations within the Australian sporting arena have historically, been tense and contested, this paper brings to light an under-explored aspect of football in Australia. It is timely too, given the insertion of Australian football within the Asian Football Confederation. The paper examines the historical meanings of the Borroloola Tour through the lens of its key participants; as well as by unveiling John Moriarty’s history as the first Aboriginal person to be selected to play for the Socceroos. In conclusion, it reveals that both the past and contemporary history of Aboriginal people’s involvement in Australian football has an emerging face that will shape football in Australia and in Asia in the coming years.
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