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Issue #1763      February 1, 2017

Lovett-Murray looks ahead

Nathan Lovett-Murray is keen to get on with his football career and pursue his dream of improving the health of his people. The 34-year-old WambaWamba/Gunditjmara man – one of the 33 Essendon players caught up in the AFL doping scandal – has just come to the end of his two-year ban.

Nathan Lovett-Murray, one of the 33 Essendon players caught up in the AFL doping scandal.

Lovett-Murray, who has maintained his innocence, is tight-lipped on a compensation deal being negotiated by lawyers.

“It was a big relief to be able to run around and train with the players that I’m going to be playing with and coaching,” he said on the day the ban ended.

“I jumped out of bed and wanted to go down-to the oval and run around; I couldn’t wait.

“It bought back that passion of loving football again. I’m back into it.”

Lovett-Murray, the playing coach of the Shepparton Rumbalara Aboriginal seniors football team, reckons they’ve got a decent chance of snagging a premiership this season.

The ban also made his role as a youth worker at the Academy of Sports, Health and Education (ASHE) in Shepparton difficult. ASHE caters for Aboriginal youth aged 16 to 25, and operates under a partnership between Rumbalara Football Club and Melbourne University.

Lovett-Murray organises sporting activities for students, but he had been unable to participate. “The 12 months was really hard; something had been taken away from me,” he said. “I really love my sport, football and basketball, and I wasn’t allowed to do that for 12 months.

“I struggled with it and was depressed. The footy club has been okay. They have helped with counselling and that sort of stuff.

“It’s been hard, but I’m not the only one. There’s been another 30 players going through the same stuff.”

To make matters even harder, last year prosecutors dropped charges against a man accused of the manslaughter of Lovett-Murray’s uncle after a fight at a country football match.

He is keen to put the whole saga behind him and hopes that being labelled a drug cheat will not affect his dreams of creating a better future for his people.

One of Lovett-Murray’s ideas is to stage a massive concert, featuring international artists, at the MCG to raise international awareness of the Indigenous health crisis.

It’s something he came up with after going to eight funerals of family and friends in a two-month period.

Lovett-Murray has been working on a business plan for a decade and has attracted corporate support, but wonders if the drug scandal is why government has not supported the project. “We need the whole world to know what’s going on here,” he said.

“We’re controlled and restricted by government; we rely on their funding too much. I want to raise money from this concert and put it back into Indigenous health organisations and foundations, and also go overseas and raise international aid for Indigenous health, just like they do for Africans.

“I’ve been lucky through my football to be able to go to South Africa, and I’ve been to Japan, Ireland, America and different countries. It’s opened my eyes; there are a lot of people around the world who really do care, and want to support the oldest living culture.”

While Lovett-Murray sees there are lot of good people who do care, he feels most Australians don’t. “It’s a slow genocide,” he said.

Lovett-Murray says appropriate education is the key.

“It starts with education. Mainstream education is failing our people,” he said.

Lovett-Murray wants to see a school like ASHE in every community, where students have one-on-one support if needed, cultural knowledge is taught as well as literacy and numeracy, and attention is paid to mental health and wellbeing.

He is also passionate and excited about the prospect of one day coaching at an AFL level, but worries that clubs might be turned off by the drug cheat label.

“I enjoy working with young people who want to get to that next level,” he said.

“I want to pass on my experiences of playing 10 years of AFL and what it took to get there – that advice and knowledge.

“What you put in is what you get out; the more you put in the more you get out.”

Koori Mail

Next article – Urgent action needed

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