Adelaide Crows Foundation

Crows Foundation helps empower communities: Saunders

Saunders was appointed to the Adelaide Crows Foundation Board last year.

His on-field football loyalties might be divided, but off-field Brenz Saunders is a staunch supporter of the work of the Adelaide Football Club.

Saunders, who was appointed to the Adelaide Crows Foundation Board late last year, is a firm believer in the critical role sport plays in empowering communities – something which is at the core of the work of the Club’s charity arm.

Through his experiences across the education and technology sectors he has seen first-hand the challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can face in regard to education, training and skills and was attracted to the Foundation after seeing the impact its programs are having on the lives of young First Nations people.

“Being a tech person myself I really wanted to contribute to the Foundation and specifically to STEM Footy and the other First Nations programs because I can see how they are empowering the young people in our communities, such as the APY Lands,” Saunders said.

“I applied for the Board role and was successful and I’m thrilled to be able to contribute and help as the Foundation grows and pursues new projects.

“I’m passionate about supporting new ways to deliver education and the Foundation’s STEM Footy program and also Kuwa Circles, both of these programs having their own uniqueness in the way they engage young people in maths, science and technology to drive interest and help ensure more thrive across these sectors.

“Since being appointed I’m often asked if I’m a Crows supporter and I must admit I don’t 100 percent support the Crows.

“I grew up supporting Hawthorn because of my Dad brainwashing me at an early age, but my mum supports the Crows wholeheartedly. So, in terms of the pure football side, I’m probably 50 percent a Crows supporter – one foot in one foot out,” he said with a laugh.

Saunders first became involved in football in his early years growing up in Ceduna on the State’s Far West Coast.

“Unfortunately, my only experience of playing football was in the under-10s in Ceduna and then I moved to Adelaide in my teenage years to attend boarding school where I became more involved in umpiring football after giving it a go in Ceduna before moving to Adelaide,” he said.

“Umpiring was another way for me to continue to be part of the sport and it also helped me stay in contact and engaged with my school mates in Adelaide and cousins back home in Ceduna when I had the opportunity to take my umpiring skills back to country SA football.”

After finishing high school, Saunders gave up umpiring to focus on his professional life which commenced with a traineeship with the State Government’s Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

He worked in varied roles across Government until 2019, when he chose to start an Aboriginal technology consulting firm with a focus on incorporating First Nations cultural intelligence into the delivery of innovative projects. The firm now works within the video game development sector after a recent partnership deal. 

“My time with the Government allowed me to cement the pathway I wanted to follow, one that was not forced but naturally created based on my personal learnings and skillset. I now find myself in positions of which I hold great respect for and want to ensure my contribution creates innovative and inclusive solutions to some very challenging matters across communities,” he said.

“The statistics in terms of the number of First Nations people involved in the tech sector is terribly low but I really hope that with programs such as those which are being run by the Foundation, the conversation turns to ‘look at how many are in the tech sector’.”

NAIDOC Week, which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is on from Sunday, July 2 to Sunday, July 9.

The Adelaide Crows Foundation will once again have a presence at the NAIDOC SA Family Fun Day in Tarndanyangga (Victoria Square) on Friday, July 7 from 12pm-3.30pm, with a STEM Footy activation, giveaways, a visit from Claude the Crow and more.