North a perfect indigenous role model

Qantas Socceroo talks about his desire to see more indigenous kids playing football.

Dubai: Qantas Socceroo defender Jade North is a proud indigenous Australian and one of only a few that have made it top of the world-s biggest sport. It-s a situation he would like to see change sooner rather than later.

North, who captained the Newcastle Jets to glory in the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final, is slowly establishing himself as a regular first team member of the national team and he hopes his displays will see many more indigenous kids take up the sport and achieve the same heights that he is currently scaling.

“Absolutely”, when asked if he would like more indigenous kids playing the sport. “There are a lot of indigenous kids that love sport in general and when I was growing up, I knew a lot indigenous kids who were also playing football.

“Unfortunately they would get to a certain age and they would turn to league, union or AFL, which is probably the sport they are most suited; as they are quick athletes; their agility is good and their athleticism is great, so they are really suited to AFL.

“But having said that, football would be great for them as well and hopefully I am a role model for them growing up and show them that football is another way out. Any of them can play it, because they have that athleticism about them and well suited for it.”

North believes with the Hyundai A-League now broadcast in its entirety on Fox Sports, more indigenous kids are exposed to the game and will possibly help see the numbers grow. But he wants to see more done to try and encourage kids to take up the sport with special programs introduced for these kids.

“I think it-s something we really need to work on; its matter of going to indigenous and remote communities, starting right from the roots, building programs and developing players at a young age.

“I think there is a lot there to be done, because they have natural talent and a lot of it goes to waste. We-ve got to try and help that and bring them on to bigger and better things.

“It would also be good to see something in place with the advent of the National Youth League competition; to perhaps see an indigenous player in every team and give them an opportunity like that. I have no doubt we could develop some great talented players. I would be all for it.”

The 26-year-old is preparing himself meanwhile for one tough game on Saturday against Iraq in Dubai (UAE), where he likely to be part of a three-man backline.

“It-s going to be very difficult for the game; but welcome to Asia for us, because we are still relatively new to Asia and those kinds of conditions we are going to be up against. It-s good that we experience these for the future, so we know what to expect.”

Unfortunately for North, he suffered a scare at training later that evening, when in a pre-game warm-up drill, Chris Coyne, accidently landed on his leg and he was forced to miss the rest of the training. He did however get back up and do light running with medical staff to ease concerns that he might be out of the match.

However the intensity at training has certainly lifted and the sessions progressively working more towards a game situation.

“I got through it fine and better than what I thought I would. For me it-s just a matter of drinking plenty of fluid and topping up every time we get a drink break.

“I had the GPS on me last night (Wednesday) and everything seemed fine with my movement; my overall breathing was fine, but again that-s training and not a game, as I am sure the intensity in a game is going to be a lot higher.

“It-s a bit of an indication of what we are going to be up against. Obviously we train at 6 and the games at 8, so we-ve got another couple of hours and could be a few degrees cooler, which could be a massive difference for us.”

With Verbeek looking increasingly likely to go with a back three for the match, North has no dramas with that and has played that system with Newcastle and in the match against China earlier this year in Kunming.

“I am quite comfortable with a back three; pretty familiar with it and I think it will suit us with the type of players we have got. We did the job against China (with back three) and I am pretty confident with what ever formation we have.

“We gave them (Iraq) a few opportunities at home and that-s something we-ve got to look at and what Pim-s had a look at and is thinking he will go with a back three; have a couple more defenders there; break there rhythm down a little bit and from having as many chances as they had.”

With Coyne the most likely candidate to fill the breach in defence, North is looking forward to having the 29-year-old next to him for the first time.

“He-s great; a great leader; a great guy and I am sure it (playing on Saturday) will be nothing different for him, other than the fact he is going to be putting the green and gold on. It will be a massive game for him and he will be really up for the challenge.

“He-s a good communicator and that-s what we need at the back, a lot of communication and I think we-ll be fine.

With the defence taking a bit of stick for its performance against Iraq in Brisbane, North admits some it was justified.

“I look back on my performance whenever I play and I think we could have been a lot tighter at times and following runners a few times.

“I think they took us by surprise and full credit to them; they came right at us and we thought they would sit off us and counter-attack us. When they got the ball, they took it right to us, but the good thing about playing them again, is we-ve got the chance to improve what we did on our mistakes from last week.”