He’s a well-known AFL legend but Michael O’Loughlin said aside from his football career, he’s incredibly proud of co-founding the GO Foundation with close friend Adam Goodes.
The GO Foundation empowers young Indigenous Australians by offering scholarships for students in kindergarten right through to university which assist with their educational costs.
During a visit to the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Perth’s Curtin University, Mr O’Loughlin said both he and Goodes were inspired by the challenges they faced growing up.
“Both Adam and I had grown up with missing excursions, not having the right books or uniforms,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
“We are trying to eradicate that, and the foundation allows us to do that. We have great support from a number of people that have been great friends of ours, who have admired us as football players but also loved the vison of what we are trying to do.”
Mr O’Loughlin said while school can be especially tough for Indigenous students, it was crucial for creating a strong and successful future.
“We have got nearly 145 kids in South Australia and New South Wales [receiving GO scholarships], it’s good to go back to the old school and I know a lot of the families there that are doing it really tough,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
“[Education] is so important, the world is a really tough place. Technology is getting faster, everything is going at a million miles an hour, we can’t get left behind.”
Each student who receives a GO Scholarship has access to the GO Ecosystem which provides access to partner organisations such as CareerTrackers and AIME.
Both partners provide students with extra opportunities including homework support, cultural mentoring, leadership training, STEM training and career opportunities through work experience and paid internships.
Reflecting on his successful football career, Mr O’Loughlin said he had learnt many life lessons and it was important to put in the hard work to have the best chance at succeeding in life.
“I doubted I could play AFL … because I was skinny and I wasn’t fit enough but it’s not until you get in those environments, you put the work in; lift more weights, eat healthy and do extra work that you get results,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
“The same thing applies to your education and work and employment, you put the work in and you will start seeing the results.”
For Mr O’Loughlin, education is the key.
“It’s really important that we create our own destinies and you get that through education first and foremost in my belief.”
By Jade Bradford