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AFL and Coles announce Indigenous partnership

Coles ambassador Cathy Freeman and AFL indigenous ambassador Lindsay Thomas at the program launch  - ${keywords}
Coles ambassador Cathy Freeman and AFL indigenous ambassador Lindsay Thomas at the program launch
The AFL is pleased to announce it will expand its partnership with Coles to include AFL Indigenous programs, in addition to the existing Coles AFL Schools partnership.

Announced today in Melbourne by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou and Coles Managing Director Ian McLeod, Coles and the AFL will work closely together to deliver football, health, education, leadership and employment opportunities for Indigenous male and females.

The Coles AFL Indigenous Programs partnership will for the first time see the introduction of a female Under 18 Indigenous camp in which the top players will be selected to compete at the historical Under 18 National Kickstart Championships to be held in Melbourne.

The partnership includes the following AFL Indigenous programs:

- State Under 15 Indigenous Camps
- Under 15 National Kickstart Championships
- Under 15 Flying Boomerangs āƒprogram
- Female Under 18 Kickstart Camps
- Female Under 18 National Kickstart Championships
- National Indigenous Coaching Academy
- Indigenous Ambassadors program
- Indigenous All Stars game

Coles AFL Indigenous programs ambassadors have been appointed to mentor Indigenous program participants and to develop key strategies which will strengthen Indigenous engagement and talent pathways.

The Coles AFL Indigenous ambassadors include Lindsay Thomas, Shaun Burgoyne, Patrick Ryder, Josh Hill, Michael Johnson, Jarrod Harbrow, Tony Armstrong, Chad Wingard and Brendon Ah Chee.

AFL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou said the AFL is proud to expand its partnership with Coles and to welcome the Indigenous AFL players as ambassadors.

"This is a significant result for both the AFL and Coles and provides many young Indigenous people with the opportunity to play football at the top level while also developing leadership and life skills.

"The partnership also extends to the elite level with the Indigenous All-Stars match which celebrates and strengthens cultural identity and also with the engagement of player ambassadors who will play a key part in developing and integrating our strategies.

"We are also very excited about the introduction of the National Female Kickstart Championships and believe this will create new opportunities for Indigenous females to play competitive football while gaining educational outcomes."

Coles Managing Director Ian McLeod, said, "The addition of the Coles AFL Indigenous Programs to our AFL partnership further reinforces our commitment to grassroots sport and Indigenous development in Australia, with a range of great initiatives including a national Coaching Academy and Indigenous Kickstart Camps."

"In the last two years, Coles has increased the number of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander team members from 78 to over 900, raised over $180,000 for the Coles Indigenous Food Fund and distributed over 200,000 meals to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Coles Community Food Program with SecondBite.

"It is our goal to ensure that our teams and community engagement programs represent the communities we serve."