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Apr 3, 2012

FFA boss wants more indigenous stars

Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley hopes indigenous players will ultimately make up at least 10 per cent of domestic and national teams, after unveiling a strategy he admits is overdue.

While other football codes, especially AFL and rugby league, have long produced a plethora of celebrated indigenous players, only around half a dozen have represented the Socceroos.

On Tuesday, Buckley unveiled the Football Dreaming development strategy aimed at maximising participation for indigenous footballers and identifying and developing those with talent.

The FFA also plan to use their code as a vehicle to positively impact areas such as education, employment and health.

Buckley conceded an indigenous strategy for Australian soccer was overdue and that his code was in catch-up mode.

"I think football has traditionally been a very urban-focused game and it hasn't reached out to the regional communities that the other sports have," Buckley told AAP.

"We haven't had the depth of resources to be able to fund these sort of projects and we're increasing our capacity to do that.

"We're recognising that we're behind where the other sports have got to over their history and that's something we're going to work really hard to catch up as fast as we can."

Initially, the FFA hopes to have at least a five per cent representation of indigenous players in all the domestic league and national teams, though Buckley is ultimately aiming higher.

"We would like to see a 10 per cent goal," Buckley said.

"It's an ambitious target. I don't think we'll get there in a short term, but that's the sort of goal we've set for ourselves over the medium to long term."

John Moriarty, the first indigenous player to be selected in an Australian soccer team, hailed the announcement of the strategy as a historical moment.

Matildas' striker Kyah Simon, who last year became the first indigenous Australian to score at a World Cup, welcomed the FFA's initiative.

"I'm very excited. It's definitely been a long time coming, but it's great to see it finally getting in motion and things happening," Simon told AAP.

"It's exciting for me being a current indigenous national team member to see that there is a strategy in place to get more indigenous kids involved at a younger age and then hopefully develop into something more as they get older."

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