During NAIDOC Week, Perth Glory defender and PFA Delegate Natasha Rigby was inspired to take action to help make a difference to Indigenous communities.

Through her family connection to literacy, Tash decided to take on a physical challenge – a full marathon in Perth’s City to Surf next month – to raise awareness and funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Tash hopes to raise funds for the organisation, which aims to close the literacy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities by providing resources such as books and programs to those in need.

According to the 2017 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) only 34 per cent on Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 95 per cent for non-Indigenous students in major cities.

We caught up with Tash to discuss the marathon and what inspired her to take on this tough challenge for a great cause.

When did you first think about undertaking the Marathon? 

I ran a half marathon on the behalf of Breast Cancer Care WA in May and managed to drag myself across the line, so I have been thinking about the possibility about running the full 42km for a while now and this seemed like the best possible cause to do so. I am choosing to run this marathon in celebration of NAIDOC Week and to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. This foundation holds such a special place in my heart.

How are you currently preparing for the marathon? What are some of the training techniques you are using as well as nutrition? 

I am following a training program and slowly increasing the load each week by increasing the number of kilometres I am running. This is then interspersed with interval training.  This week I aim to hit a total of 60km. I am eating a lot more breakfast then I usually do, lots of oats, bananas and high energy boosters. 

How has your preparation so far differed from your ‘normal’ football training? There is a lot more low intensity, high volume training. I am still training with my state league club so that is all football focused, on top of that I am trying to complete four long runs in a week.

What is important to you about celebrating NAIDOC Week?
NAIDOC week should be every week! This amazing week showcases, celebrates and highlights the incredibly rich culture, history and language of our Indigenous people. I feel it is about coming together as one through embracing community by fostering pride and offering support. 

What is your connection to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation?
I read about this foundation and was instantly drawn to their mission and vision. I was particularly drawn to the Community Literacy Project which publishes books written by remote communities. It allows the community to vocalise the power of their culture and convey their traditions and legends through story telling. This project assists in supplying the tools needed to assist communities in telling their story so this precious information to be preserved, shared and celebrated. 

What is your connection to the Indigenous people and your desire to give back?
I am forever in awe of our Indigenous people; their strength, resilience, culture and way of life. We have so much to learn from this incredible culture and I just wanted to celebrate NAIDOC week by taking action. 

How important is recognising and preserving Indigenous culture and language?There is nothing more important. The Indigenous people, culture and language are the roots of our history and we need to do everything possible to provide support and attention so these roots can flourish and receive the recognition, acknowledgement and celebration they deserve. It is so important that we do everything we can to provide resources and encouragement in order to provide a safe, nurturing environment whereby stories be told and songlines preserved so the new generations can continue to carry precious culture and tradition into the future.

Tell us about the special relationship you have with books?
Dad is a writer and Mum is a librarian, so my brother and I were both bought up on books. Dad has a way of bringing words to life and that has always been magical to me. I feel like everyone should be lucky enough to experience the wonder of storytelling, reading and writing. That’s why this foundation inspired me.

What would be the ultimate outcome for you in this quest?
To raise awareness about this incredible foundation and provide opportunities for those in need. 

For more details about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, click HERE and to sponsor Tash, click HERE.