A.T.S.I.C. Match
THE ATSIC EXPERIENCE - Saturday 17th August 2002

  Clitheroe's first match of the new season was sponsored by Blues supporter Bruce Dowles on behalf of ATSIC - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (out of Canberra, Australia).
  Fans entered the ground to to the sound of indigenous Australian music playing over the PA system and posters sent from Canberra were festooned in the Clubhouse and Sponsor's Lounge. There was even an appearance from an inflatable kangaroo!

The match day programme contained the following article, prepared by Bruce :

"Australia, like many countries in the New World, is intensely pround of what it has achieved in the past 200 years. It has a vibrant and resourceful people. It shares a freedom born in the abundance of nature, the richness of the earth, the bounty of the sea. It is the world's biggest island. It has the world's longest coastline. It has more animal species than any other country. Two-thirds of the world's bird species are native to Australia. It is one of the few countries on earth with it's own sky. It is a fabric of many colours and it is this that gives it it's strength. However, these achievements have come at a great cost.

Australians as we know them have been there for 200 years, but before that there was a people living there. For over 40,000 years they have lived in perfect balance with the land. There were many Aboriginal nations, just as there were many Indian nations in North America and across Canada, as there were many Maori tribes in New Zealand, and Incan and Mayan peoples in South America. These indigenous Australians lived in areas as different from one another as Scotland is from Ethiopia. They lived in an area the size of Western Europe. They didn't even share a common language. Yet they had their own laws, their own beliefs, their own ways of understanding.

This world was destroyed. The forbears of modern Australians often didn't mean to do it, fighting to establish themselves in what they saw as a harsh environment, they were creating a national economy.

But the Aboriginal world was decimated. A pattern of disease and dispossession was established. Alcohol was introduced. Social and racial differences were allowed to become fault-lines. Aboriginal families were broken up. And sadly Aboriginal health and education are responsibilities still to be addressed successfully.

The Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Commission (ATSIC) is the principal democratically elected indigenous organisation. It was set up in 1990 to include indigenous people in the process of government affecting their lives. ATSIC's vision is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities freely exercising their legal, economic, social, cultural and political rights.

ATSIC and myself are honoured to sponsor this match, in fact it is entirely fitting as Aboriginals are breaking into Australian Rules football, rugby's two disciplines and knocking on the door of soccer too!"

This unique match sponsorship has certainly put Clitheroe FC in the limelight and raised awareness of ATSIC. It was covered by the local press thanks to The Lancashire Evening Telegraph's Theresa Robson. She put together a truthful, hardhitting piece and an article also gained the front page of the Clitheroe Advertiser & Times.

Following the match, the story was picked up by the Sun and a hastily arranged photo-shoot was held at the ground on Monday lunchtime, with the story appearing on page 23 of Tuesday's edition. Then articles appeared in the Manchester edition of the Metro...and was also spotted in the London edition by our local MP Nigel Evans. The story had broken nationwide!

Interviews then followed on BBC Radio Leeds, Talksport, Radio Lancashire culminating with a Radio Five Live chat with Adrian Childs the following Saturday lunchtime. Meanwhile, Associated Australian Press do an in-depth phone interview that would go to every newspaper in Australia!

The whole thing was such a success that ATSIC are considering direct sponsorship next season and are looking at obtaining grant monies to send over a dance team. Next season's first home match could be something very spectacular!

Saturday 17th August 2002
Match sponsored by ATSIC in conjunction with Bruce Dowles

Clitheroe 1 - 1 Prescot Cables

The Clitheroe Man-of-the-Match Simon Garner is pictured with Bruce and the inflatable kangaroo in the Clubhouse after the game.

Bruce was also involved at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester as a driver for the Australian competitors. Below are some photos he took of the Australian boxers wearing the Clitheroe FC scarf.

For more information on ATSIC and Indigenous Australia visit their website at www.atsic.gov.au

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