Travis Dodd: "We all want to give opportunities to young Indigenous kids to play the game"
Speaking on The Front Page Football Podcast recently, Adelaide United legend Travis Dodd opened up about his involvement in Indigenous football in South Australia. He aims to expose the sport to the local Indigenous community and find players that can progress to an elite level.
Dodd joined the pod to discuss the recent announcement that he will lead a South Australian team at the inaugural First Nations Indigenous Football Cup. The current Croydon FC manager reflected on his side's 2022 season whilst looking ahead to 2023. Finally, he gave his thoughts on the new A-League Men season, including his beloved Reds under Carl Veart.
But Dodd first went into detail about what he has been doing within the Indigenous football space since he retired from an illustrious playing career.
"It's always been in the back of mind about creating pathways and opportunities for young Indigenous kids to play the game and get exposure to the game," Dodd said on the latest episode of the podcast.
"I looked as a professional player in Australia and the federation, Football Federation Australia at the time, they were stop-starting with Indigenous programs, there was a football festival every now and then.
"Then I finished playing, and I wasn't really involved in the Indigenous side of football. Three years ago, I met up with then (South Australian) Premier Steven Marshall and asked him for funding to start an academy, an Indigenous academy.
"What we got, in the end, was funding to pile up the program through the South Australian Aboriginal [Secondary] Training Academy, overseen by the education department.
"This program has basketball, netball, [and] football (AFL) already, and we were going to create the football arm of that.
"So we did that with Metro Stars, I was the assistant coach at the time, and then three years later, that's evolved, and the numbers continue to grow. That's a school-based program, years 10, 11, and 12."
Dodd has been working hard since he retired to promote the game as much as possible in Indigenous communities. (The Advertiser)
Dodd's efforts to increase the sport's exposure to Indigenous kids have recently ramped up. It has culminated in South Australia's involvement in the First Nations Indigenous Football Cup, a landmark event for the state's Indigenous football arm.
"For the last two years, I've been coaching the Australian Indigenous women's team, the Indigenous Koalas. That's been organised through Queensland Indigenous Football and the Australian Indigenous Football Council (AIFC)," Dodd continued.
"Most recently, at our game in March of this year, we coached, and we formed the board for AIFC, and they asked me to start the state arm, South Australian Indigenous Football (SAIF).
"So that's what I went away and did. About three months ago, [I] started the process to get SAIF off the ground, put a board together, [and] got some good football people involved.
"The first event for us is the First Nations Indigenous Football Cup.
"The tournament is open to men, women, and youth players. Through support [from] Football South Australia, we were able to put an email out to all of the registered Indigenous football players on the database.
"Unfortunately, this year, we didn't get the numbers for a full youth team and a women's team, but we will be taking a men's team.
"It's great that we've got that representation from South Australia; it'd be the first time a team from SA has gone.
"I'm looking forward to that. But I guess the bigger picture for SAIF and what I'm looking to do with this organisation is to get out into the community, the grassroots communities, both metro and regionally, to promote the game, to expose kids to the game on a regular basis and provide these kids [with] an opportunity to play the game.
"Hopefully [we] start uncovering players that can progress and play at an elite level in Australia and beyond."
Watch the full video of Dodd speaking about how he has been involved in developing Indigenous football in South Australia on the podcast below:
Click here to listen to the full podcast with Travis Dodd, available through the Front Page Football podcast platform on Spotify!