Boots for Brighter Futures 2021

Teaming Up to Tackle Indigenous Youth Suicide                              NRL Indigenous Round – Round 12 | 27 May – 30 May 2021

In 2021 the NRLs Indigenous Round will be even bigger and better with players from the Newcastle Knights, West Tigers, Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm, and Canterbury Bulldogs joining the Cultural Choice Association in the fight against Indigenous youth suicide. The stories, the inspiration and the artwork will blow you away. Boots for Brighter Futures is changing lives one pair of boots at a time.

“Our inspiration for the Cultural Choice Association (CCA) came about through my family’s journey”, says CCA Director and Knights playmaker Connor Watson.

Connor’s father Mark is a Gamilaroi man from Walgett in northern NSW and worked for many years as an Aboriginal Education Worker in local high schools for disengaged young adults. In this role he witnessed firsthand the disparity between mainstream students, disadvantaged and Aboriginal students.

Player: Victor Radley – Roosters
Artist: Darcy

Victor Radley's boots were painted by Darci, a proud, young, Wiradjuri man from Avoca Beach on the Central Coast. These boots were designed specifically for Victor who requested for his boots to be painted in Torres Strait Islander colours. The Turtle and the Shark represent both Darcy and Victors Coastal lifestyle.

Years back, through the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Connor was fortunate to receive an education scholarship that the family could have only dreamed about. The family would often reflect on the significance of ‘opportunity’ on a young person’s perception of what might be possible in life and were inspired to find a way to create opportunities for others less fortunate. .

“In 2017, I lost my cousin at the age of 17 to youth suicide. As a family faced with the rising tragedy of youth suicide (in particular Indigenous Youth suicide) it was at this point that the focus and passion to make a difference in the lives of young aboriginal people gained impetus and CCA was established,” Connor stated.

“The Boots for Brighter Future initiative began three years ago with dad painting my boots as a way for us to celebrate our culture, when I approached the Knights about doing the whole team they were really supportive and got behind us and all of the boys were keen to be a part of it too,” said Connor.

Player: Kalyn Ponga – Knights
Artist: Brad

Kayln Ponga’s boots were painted by Brad, a “Bunjalung” nation man. The boots were painted in ochre paint specifically with Kayln in mind. The clay paint represents the land we walk on every day. Brad wanted to acknowledge Kayln and how important the boots are with connection to land and the foot print he leaves behind as a public figure for children around the Country.

With the help of the Knights, in 2019 CCA established an auction site for the boots. All of the proceeds from the BFBF boot auction go towards supporting our dream … to raise awareness and support the prevention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide and its related causes in Australia. Each of the artists receives a share of the proceeds to support them in initiatives around education, employment and well-being and which contribute to them believing in, and achieving a future without limitation.

CCA would like to thanks our 2021 BFBF Partners:

  • Newcastle Knights
  • West Tigers
  • Sydney Rooster
  • Canterbury Bulldogs
  • Melbourne Storm
  • Canberra Raiders
  • Kirinari Hostel – Newcastle
  • Frank Baxter Youth Justice Centre
  • Gugan-Gulwan
  • Kincumber High School
  • Orana Youth Justice Centre
  • Reiby Youth Justice Centre
  • Dubbo PCYC
  • Cultural Choice Workplace Supplies

Player: Connor Watson – Knights
Artist: Lehetta & Lily

Connor Watson's boots were painted by at Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel Newcastle. The artists payed respect to their connection with Connor and Connor's connection and loyalty to the Indigenous community as a role model for young Indigenous people. Each circle represents the many different communities Connor connects with every day including the Kirinari Community, wider Indigenous communities, Local school communities, the Knights community, the Avoca beach community and more.