With NAIDOC Week officially kicking off and our Indigenous Round taking centre stage this weekend, we caught up with one of our well-known Indigenous football members in the #NPLNSW community, Mt Druitt Town Rangers star striker Jack Stewart and found out just how proud the 24-year-old is of his culture and background.
FNSW: Jack, we know you are a very proud Indigenous man, tell us what it means to you?
JS: I’m so proud of my Indigenous background. Being able to say I’m Aboriginal and being part of the Indigenous community is something I take great pride in it. My family and I are fully embracing our culture and continuing to learn and build our understanding of it and how we can better our Indigenous community.
To me, being Aboriginal is something that no one can every take away from me, it’s something that I’m the proudest to say as I see my people as fighters, and it gives me strength in my day to day life.
FNSW: What does NAIDOC Week mean to you?
JS: NAIDOC Week is a time when everyone gets to see the truly amazing culture and highlights the importance to remember the suffering Indigenous people have and continue to go through. It’s a time when people can be educated about it and empowers Indigenous people to stand up and be proud of who we are.
FNSW: What proud tribe does your family originate from?
JS: We are from the Kamilaroi mob from Tamworth and born and accepted into the Dharug country.
FNSW: Explain to us your full-time job where you help the Indigenous community in many ways
JS: I’m a High School teacher at Oakhill College Castle Hill. Part of my role at the school is working with Karen Isaacs, an Aboriginal woman, where we work with our Indigenous students and help them learn about their culture. It’s a fantastic role in being able to connect greater with my culture and using education as a tool for our students. For a long time, Indigenous people have been greatly disadvantaged in the education arena, so by working in a school I hope to continue to close the gap and help develop strong Indigenous people.
FNSW: There are a number of highly talented Indigenous football stars both male and female playing our game, how as a sport can we help identify more to further their careers?
JS: I think the best way to continue to grow and develop Indigenous people in our sport is to allow them to feel comfortable to share their culture, continuing to have things like the Indigenous Round and have each team truly engaging with their community. Community is an important part of Indigenous culture and Football is a perfect way to help bring communities together. Having more Indigenous people working within club levels and higher is also a great way to help promote and develop Indigenous footballers.
FNSW: How has your NPL NSW Men’s club Mt Druitt Town Rangers been in embracing your Indigenous culture? We understand you recently championed a smoking ceremony before one of the training sessions?
JS: Mt Druitt have been very supportive of my Aboriginal culture. From the players to staff, everyone has really embraced it and yes, we had a smoking ceremony before training a few weeks back. Stewart (Montgomery) asked me if I would be able to organise something for the boys to try and up our spirits and the club’s vibe as this year hasn’t been what we had hoped for. I’m honoured to have a connection with Uncle Wes Marne, a Bigambul man, who has lived in Mount Druitt for more than 45 years, and, at 100 years continues to share and educated our community. He is a true leader in our community, and we were lucky enough to have Uncle Wes, Aunty Karen and Ian lead our team through a smoking ceremony and speak to the boys about our culture and a little history about what a smoking ceremony is. The club were amazing about it and all the boys were very respectful and enjoyed the night.