Caboolture resident and bricklayer, Nathan Walker, has played soccer for most of his life after developing a love of sport at an early age. The same can’t be said however about his Indigenous heritage.
“Growing up, there was always an emphasis that if you were an Aborigine, you were nothing but a lazy bludger,” explained Nathan. “And being a white Aboriginal, I always thought people would say I was just jumping on the bandwagon to claim benefits. So I didn’t.”
Nathan belongs to the Nunukal people of Stradbroke Island, near Amity Point, where the Walker family is prominent in the rich Aboriginal history of the area. Nathan’s father who is Indigenous, also shied away from his heritage because of bullying, and the shame that he felt was passed down to his own children.
Nathan’s perspective towards his Indigenous heritage has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, largely due to his involvement with the Caboolture Sports Football Club (CSFC). He first joined the club at 10 years old, before rising through the ranks to become a state junior and Australian Schoolboys shadow player, later gaining selection to trial for the Brisbane Roar’s inaugural squad.
For the past six years, Nathan has been giving back to the club which gave him so much as a junior.
Through CSFC he has played with the winning South East Queensland Dingoes, an Indigenous representative soccer team. The team receives a huge amount of support from the football club, and has allowed Nathan and other Indigenous players to comfortably explore their Indigenous heritage while taking part in the National Indigenous Football Championships. The tournament is a celebration of culture and brings talented Indigenous football players together. Nathan believes it has connected him to his heritage in a way he’s never felt before.
“To go there and watch the dances and listen to the stories behind them gives me a huge sense of pride in being Indigenous, which was missing when I was younger,” he said.
The comfort and safety felt by Indigenous players is the emphasis of the SEQ Dingoes, where Nathan will be in a coaching role this year. He encourages all young, Indigenous sportspeople to come down to CSFC, “Especially those who may feel unsure about opening up about their Indigenous heritage,” he said. “Come down and chat to the boys. If you’re around your own people, it won’t be as scary.”
Nathan sees sport as a fantastic avenue for Indigenous Australians to grow in confidence. He also believes the general community and the Australian Government is no longer turning a blind eye to the true history of our country. He would love to see a well-respected elder high up in Australian Government so Indigenous people have a stronger voice to help establish trust and equal rights.
Nathan doesn’t want his three daughters to experience any of the shame that he felt about his heritage, and sees communication and learning as ways to overcome this.
CSFC is located at Grants Road, Morayfield.
*If there are any residents with Indigenous heritage in our community who would like to tell their story, please email Melina or Katy at firstname.lastname@example.org.