THESE boots were made for talking - and what a story they have to tell...
Perth Glory's Travis Dodd helped his side to a much needed 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets last weekend when he fired two goals past Gary van Egmond’s men.
But his spectacular goal-scoring boots are key to a bigger project for Dodd as an ambassador for Get Black On Ya Feet which is using sport and culture to engage kids of any background in education.
And the hand-painted Turtle Dreaming boots are on the frontline of the program run by inspirational Koori artist Daren Dunn.
The South Australian met Dunn through former Jets skipper Jade North during a Socceroos training camp in 2006.
Towards the end of last season they got in contact again when Sydney-based Dunn asked the A-League player to wear a pair of customised boots to promote the program.
“The big part for Daren is to get kids to stay in school and the success rate he’s had has been great.” Dodd told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“He’s been able to reach kids who would previously skip school. Now they’ve got a much better attendance rate and hopefully that makes a difference in the rest of their lives.”
Melbourne Heart’s David Williams is another Aboriginal player showing a passion for some fancy footwork, sporting the Sundancer design.
During Heart’s round nine clash against Sydney FC, Williams showed his commitment to the cause, staying back after the game to talk with 15 children Dunn had brought along.
The traditional inspired boots have also made their way into AFL and League and it’s not just sport – a pair of heritage high heels recently grabbed global attention.
Each design is a one-off that can take up to nine hours to complete.
Dodd said of Dunn’s artwork: “What he does each time I send a boot over is getting more and more detailed.
“The only unfortunate thing is that because it’s painted on, without him doing the touch-ups you could probably get maybe five games before the paint starts to really come off.”
But while the art may fade, Dunn and players like Dodd and Williams are proving the benefits flowing from the program can last a lifetime.
Dunn, who played football as a kid and began by colouring-in his own boots, said Dodd and Williams are role models for the hundreds of children who pass through the program.
“It’s not about designing boots so they’re all pretty and that – it’s more of a cultural thing,” he said.
“We all have our own traditional stories and I sit down with the players and we talk about a lot of stuff like that.
“But the main focus is that they’re ambassadors and children actually look up to them and want to be like them and want the artwork on the boot.
“I teach these children if you want artwork on your boot well, where’s the balance of your life at the moment? I teach them there’s a very big role to play wearing these footy boots.”