Agius: Indigenous footballers crave more world game opportunities

Fred Agius in action for Adelaide United. Picture: Adelaide United.

Adelaide United’s first Indigenous player Fred Agius says young Indigenous footballers crave more world game opportunities.

Working as a partnership and community officer for Aboriginal Youth Services has prompted Agius to guide some of his young pupils towards a soccer career, despite the unwavering influence of cashed up Australian rules football. 

Agius, an Adelaide United original squad member in its first national league season in 2003, is also using his Reds life membership as an education tool where he has extraordinary access.

“I try to take some of my kids that I’m working with down to training and get them to see what the professionals are like in their environment and give them a taste to broaden their horizons,’’ Agius said.

“Australian rules is the number one sport in the country and there is a lot of money filtered through but with our code growing and growing it’s only a matter of time before they get out to the regional areas, to the aboriginal communities and really scratch the surface.

“There is a lot of talent out there and there’s a lot of aboriginal kids that I come across that play soccer as juniors and then move over to AFL.

 “If we can promote the game to them a little bit more and get them into the NPL and state league we’ll have so many more players coming through.

“I still go into the youth training centre to work with all the young lads in there, as well as kids in school, with some touching the justice system.

“I’m out in the community trying to put them on the right track.

“Throughout my working career I have been trying to get them into sports and that took most of my time as a youngster and that left me with no time to get bored and get into the silly stuff the kids may get into.

“Sport was a real outlet for me and that’s what I try to preach to the young lads today.”

Now retired from playing the game but about to coach SA amateur soccer league first division club Brahma Lodge for a fourth year in 2021, Agius is also happily commemorating NAIDOC week which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

“The more exposure NAIDOC week gets, the more people want to get involved and we have a lot of non-Indigenous people at my work who are getting really involved in it,’’ Agius said.

And after winning three titles with Brahma Lodge as coach, Agius says he is now ready to get the right coaching badges in the hope of leading an NPL or a State League club.

“I’ll try to find a club that suits and work my way up and promote the game to as many indigenous people as possible,’’ Agius said.

The now 36-year-old Agius represented the Australian under 17s at the 2001 FIFA Under 17 World Cup where a cracking goal against Trinidad and Tobago – the host nation – prompted an invite from a sporting superstar.

Agius was a guest of cricketing legend Brian Lara at a house party after he was voted man-of-the-match before winning an award for being among the most technically gifted players of the tournament.  

After the World Cup tournament, Agius won a contract with former NSL club Sydney Olympic before playing Aussie rules where he won a premiership with Central District reserves.

Agius then became an Adelaide United cult hero in 2003 after scoring a cracking goal against Brisbane Strikers in the NSL finals series at Hindmarsh Stadium.

“I got into the game because my big brother Raymond Agius was playing soccer with Brahma Lodge and I joined the club there,’’ he said in 2016. 

“He actually gave the game away because my mum couldn’t afford the fees. He did that so I could keep going with the game.”

But Agius’ pro soccer career took an unexpected turn when the Reds cut him from its inaugural 2005 A-League squad before he won five titles with Adelaide City in SA’s top league.

Agius eventually played A-League for the now defunct North Queensland Fury before ending his professional career with Indonesian first division club Cendrawasih Papua. 

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