Borroloola local Shadeene “Shay” Evans has made her W-League debut for Sydney FC after moving 3,000 kilometres to Sydney at the age of 13.
Evans, now 17, is the first professional footballer to emerge from the John Moriarty Football Program for Indigenous players from the Top End.
Evans took to the pitch in the 82nd minute against Western Sydney Wanderers in their 3-0 win at Leichhardt Oval last week.
Moriarty, who was the first Indigenous player selected for Australia in 1961, runs a program that allowed Evans to travel to Sydney to chase her dreams four years ago.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without [John Moriarty Football], really,” she said.
Moriarty is very proud of his young charge who is earmarked for higher honours even with only seven minutes game time in the W-League.
“It’s definitely her dream [to play for the Matildas] and the fact she’s already played for the Young Matildas, she certainly has her sights firmly set on that,” he says.
Evans played for the Young Matildas in a friendly against Thailand at the same ground in March last year.
“One day I want to be a Matilda,” she said.
“Just need to keep pushing myself to the limit, keep training hard, putting in those hard sessions.”
Adapting to the city environment has been tricky for the teenager and she says she couldn’t have battled the homesickness to make her debut without John Moriarty’s program.
“I would get homesick. Everything that I do like fishing, being around my family every day, camping under the stars, I really love that.”
Moriarty extends his accolades to her attitude.
“She’s very measured in how she speaks, how she talks, how she mixes with people and how she commits to the various programs that make up her life,” he said.
By Keiran Deck