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Perth visionary Gerard Neesham uses power of football to further Indigenous cause

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In 1999 while I was a law lecturer at Murdoch University the inaugural coach of the Fremantle Dockers, Gerard Neesham, telephoned me.

He had not long parted with the Dockers and was teaching at Clontarf Aboriginal College and coaching the school’s football team.

A football carnival at Clontarf, the foundation established by former Fremantle coach Gerard Neesham.Credit:Lisa Maree Williams

He could see the power of football to motivate students to attend and remain at school and improve their life choices and wanted advice on possible funding sources for a new project he was keen to pursue.

Within a year, some seed funding was secured by Neesham, and the Clontarf Foundation was established.

During the first few years, the viability of the Foundation was tested as ongoing funding became difficult to obtain. When matters were looking really dire, Alan Carpenter, then a minister in Geoff Gallop's Labor Government and future premier of WA, was able to secure a substantial financial investment from a local businessman and philanthropist for the Foundation.

This funding injection enabled Neesham, the Foundation's chief executive officer, to plan long term and now it is in its 20th year, with reliable ongoing funding from the state and federal governments and the private sector.

The Foundation, through its Clontarf academies, operates an educational engagement, behavioural change and life skills program.

The academies are formed in partnership with selected schools and........

© Brisbane Times