Jade North has revealed his excitement at taking on former Socceroo team mate Luke Wilkshire at this week’s First Nations Clash of Cultures Series.
A decade after lining up as teamates for the Socceroos in a crucial World Cup Qualifier, former teammates become foes when they face each other in a Trans-Tasman Football Series this weekend.
The Albert Butler Memorial Field near Wollongong is the setting for a three day football festival highlighted by an Indigenous men’s team coached by North against the Wilkshire-led Wollongong Wolves.
Known as the Mariyas – the word for emu in the Dhurga language– Australia’s First Nations teams will be made up of the best players from the 2018 National Indigenous Football Championships.
The Indigenous U14 girls take on the Illawarra United Stingrays and Newcastle Allstars while the senior Women’s and U14 boys will face the Maoris who have travelled from New Zealand.
North was delighted to lead the Emus against his former Socceroo team mate and was determined to put on a good showing against the Wolves as well as an African select 11.
“When it got offered to me I really loved that I was given the opportunity to coach the Indigenous Australian side,” he said.
“No doubt Wilko (Wilkshire) will want to win the game and get one over me.
“He is a very determined and driven individual and you can see what he was like with the Socceroos and his club career, that he has always been a winner.
“We’ve spoken a few times about this match and he is very supportive of the Indigenous cause which is great.”
Whilst Wilkshire is happy to support Indigenous football it will be a different story when he comes up against his former Socceroos teammate.
“When you have been around at, and you’ve played at that level, no-one likes to lose,” he told FTBL.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for the Australian Indigenous side to put themselves up against an NPL Level one team.
“I’m excited by it. It will be our first hit out as a new team, so it’s our first game of pre-season and a friendly and I expect a nice entertaining game.”
Wilkshire supported North when he conducted his Kickin' with a Cuz coaching clinic at the NIFC in October last year and said having his former teammate as part of this weekend’s match means a lot to him.
“It’s been great having Luke on board,” North said.
“Especially someone of his stature in the game. To have someone of his calibre back in Australia that wants to do well at a local level is fantastic.
“He is very determined to one day be an A-League coach and it’s great having him involved helping me with my clinic at the NIFC in Nowra, it was like the Luke of old days.
“People just see the Socceroos playing at the highest level but they are just ordinary people and want to help and Luke is one of those ones.
“He will give everything for the Wolves and the Indigenous cause and with him being part of the National Indigenous friendly it’s pretty special having someone like him involved.”