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Giving back to the community through sport

Sport is in Floyd Doyle’s blood. He is a former New South Wales grade cricketer, ABC sports reporter and comes from a family where any form of athletics was considered a bonding activity.

It is no wonder the 50 year-old Yuendumu, Northern Territory resident decided to study Swinburne Online’s Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) – but he hopes to use his degree far beyond its intended purpose.

“20 years of community work has made me realise if you want to make a difference in people’s lives, you need to be the example. The greatest outcome for me would be to inspire others to follow my lead in education, sometimes it just takes one in the community to go forward for it to spread.”

Yuendumu is three hours northwest of Alice Springs and is one of the larger remote Indigenous communities in central Australia. Floyd is a stalwart in his community, working as a regular broadcaster, alcohol support officer and of course, running sports programs for kids.

“Daily, I’m trying to encourage people out here to get involved. This is a slow process and requires a gentle hand on the back to guide others in the right direction.

“Hopefully people will see me and say ‘hey look at Floyd, look where he’s going, he’s one to follow’, that would be great to be a role model and show people how to do it rather than just telling them what to do.

“Education is an opportunity for Indigenous people to reclaim their community and be empowered, it is a cultural shift, but it needs to start somewhere.”

Decades ago, Floyd had his first taste of higher education, which he quickly determined wasn’t for him at the time.

“I tried uni a long time ago, but was not in the right frame of mind. I wasn’t prepared to jump into the swimming pool and sunk right away, being an Indigenous person we didn’t have the tools to be in academia, the speak is different, I didn’t have any support and was daunted by the size of lectures.

“Eventually I failed and I failed because I didn’t have the right skills. Research, notebooks, I wasn’t getting it. But looking back I wasn’t prepared for it, now I understand this, but it took an age to figure that out.”

Floyd became determined to get a degree after spending a year coaching cricket for young kids in Kenya through the Red Cross.

“I took the opportunity to volunteer with the community after a chance trip to Nairobi. What started with helping six kids play cricket in a disadvantaged community, turned out to be a group of 300-400 kids in the span of 12 months.

“In the year I was there, I spent time trying to figure out how to grow this program and really get the word throughout the community to get involved.

“I realised what took me a year to do would have probably taken a professional a month to figure out, so when I got back to Australia, I took up the degree to gain more knowledge in order to help the community more.”

Floyd says the big ice breaker in the Nairobi community were similarities between cultures, which he found educating them about aboriginal tribes.

“Getting involved in each community has really given me a passion and drive to keep giving back. Whether that is through volunteer work or going to uni as an example of what can be achieved, I’m just out there sharing the steps you need to take to get to the places you want.”