Byron Cozamanis Junior has always had a passion for up-skilling the next generation and helping people reach their full potential.
The Port Lincoln based trainer, who has also had stints in the fishing and mining industries, has been working with local Indigenous people for a number of years now to encourage more youth to get involved in the thoroughbred racing industry.
Cozamanis feels the racing industry is inclusive of everyone and thinks there are opportunities for more Indigenous people to make their mark in the sport.
“Indigenous culture is strongly linked to land and animals and lots of Aboriginal people generally have very good horsemanship. I’d love to see more Aboriginal people involved in the industry,” he said.
“I’ve been working closely with the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Community Council to develop teaser days and training programs for local youth but unfortunately the Covid-19 restrictions have paused this recently.
“We are really looking to create opportunities for kids in the region outside of fishing and building. There’s so many avenues to get involved in racing – from track work rider to stable hand to hospitality – and we want to demonstrate and grow understanding of that.
“Racing is a very welcoming community, everyone is accepted and all people are treated the same.”
Cozamanis Junior found his passion for racing through his father, Byron Cozamanis Senior, who first started training horses in the early 1970s in their home town of Port Lincoln. He has always enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others, following in the footsteps of others in his family to create positive community change.
“I’ve got Greek, Scottish German and Indigenous heritage which possibly helps me to connect with people from different walks of life,” he said.
“Growing up as a kid in Port Lincoln we went to Aboriginal schools and took part in a lot of cultural activities.
“Over the years my aunty and mother have both been involved in changing lives and views which is something I’m very proud of.”
Reflecting on NAIDOC Week 2021, which runs from 4-11 July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Cozamanis believes it is about educating and celebrating with all Australians.
“For me, this year’s Heal Country theme is about the generations knowing our history with the land,” he said.
“It’s important to me that my daughter knows where our people are from. My people are the Ngarrindjeri people – my nan grew up at Sandys Hut which is part of the Coorong and some of our family still live there or spend weekends there – and the Boandik people, from the region around Mount Gambier.
“The week is just as much about educating non-Indigenous people and sharing knowledge. I believe that past history is past history, we must go forward but we must also acknowledge what has happened in the past.”