The Victorian Silvereyes are set to make history when they represent Melbourne at the Indigenous Football Championships in November.
The Silvereyes will be the only outdoor Victorian Indigenous football side to represent Melbourne at any Indigenous football championship outside of Victoria.
The team was established in Melbourne by Christopher Swain, a proud Indigenous man from the Darumbal people in Central Queensland.
Swain is currently working with Football Victoria as their Indigenous Programs Coordinator and said he found inspiration to create an Indigenous football side after being sidelined for the 2021 season by a ruptured ACL.
“I want to help give others a platform and pathway that was absent in my time as an Indigenous footballer,” Swain told NIT.
“Being able to provide a blueprint for these players to flourish has been challenging yet rewarding.”
Swain has a long history of representing in sport, being heavily involved in cricket when he was in his teens led him to represent the Australian Indigenous side in 2008 and 2009.
“I started football from 12-years-old, but was more heavily involved in cricket in my earlier years,” he said.
“Representing the Australian Indigenous side allowed me to travel to the UK and [Papua New Guinea] alongside players such as Darcy Short, Daniel Christensen and Joshua Lalor to name a few, who have now represented their country and State in Australian cricket.”
Swain is currently studying a course in psychological science at the Australian Catholic University and says if it wasn’t for his shoulder injury he obtained in 2020, he wouldn’t have developed the passion he now has for football.
“My shoulder injury derailed all future plans for cricket. This is where I developed a passion for the game and decided to excel as far as I could,” he said.
“This has now lead me to where I am today in the football world, and in a place I never thought I would now call home in Melbourne.”
Swain says the Silvereyes’ mission is to produce player pathways in Victoria for aspiring Indigenous footballers and that the sole mission is to identify future Indigenous football talent to participate at the First Nations Cup each year.
“We have generated player interest from other States around Australia that will look to relocate to Melbourne over the next few months since engaging with the Silvereyes,” he said.
“Player pathways are currently being developed in Melbourne to ensure Indigenous players have access to football clubs in Victoria to play at the highest level possible.”
Swain says stage one of establishing player pathways is working with their sponsors who will be able to provide the footballers with the essential facilities, attire and possible opportunities.
“We have access to elite footballing facilities at Oxidate Performance, immaculate football facilities at Caroline Springs George Cross FC, clothing attire that BALLN are providing for the players, and marketing from Einquire Marketing,” he said.
For Swain, the goal is to have at least two players from the Silvereyes squad to be playing in the A-league within the next five years.
“We call this our ‘Dreaming’ here at the Victorian Silvereyes,” Swain said.
“We believe this is achievable and realistic, through the support of our sponsors and hard work behind the scenes.
“Future events will also take place over time, as we progressively make headway within Victorian Football.”
The Silvereyes will make their debut at the 2021 First Nations Indigenous Football Cup held in Burpengary, Queensland on November 4–6.
By Teisha Cloos