Friday, March 02, 2007

Western Australia's football Outreach for Diversity

Football West, the organising body for football in Australia's largest state and the Western Australian Heart Foundation's Smarter than Smoking program teamed up in late 2006 to develop a pilot football program aimed at providing football opportunities for special-needs children and people from multicultural backgrounds, particularly young indigenous players and immigrants. From a small group of 20 friends the squad has now expanded to more than 50 regular participants, having extended their welcome to culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) children aged 4 to 14.

The program runs under fully-accredited Head Coach Asefah Woldeselassie who has experience administering football programs and tournaments for people in humanitarian crisis and in coordinating competitions and training programs in treacherous and adverse conditions in Africa. Woldeselassie described the program as, “A chance for people to keep fit, learn and be educated about healthy lifestyles and have fun whilst discouraging anti-social behaviour and discrimination”.

The Smarter than Smoking partnership highlights the association between sporting success and a smoke free lifestyle. Leith Mete from the Heart Foundation said that it is vital that young people continue to be exposed to message that prevent the uptake of smoking, especially as they make the transition from primary to high school – a time when they are at the greatest risk of experimenting. “For those who desire to perform well with their football, smoking is not a smart move. Smokers are more easily exhausted, are slower to react and have poorer visual judgment. This program provides us with the ability to teach those less fortunate the Smarter than Smoking message,” said Mete.

Football West in conjunction with the Western Australian Department for Sport & Recreation and following approaches by a large number of community groups will work together to expand the Outreach for Diversity program to additional centres across the metro area. “Our pilot program has proved extremely successful and beneficial to the local community. The expansion of the program provides an opportunity for other similar groups to not only benefit from participation in the game, but also for greater interaction into their surrounding communities,” said Garry Chandler, CEO Football West. “It is a wonderful initiative which we are proud to be associated with,” he said.

For further information regarding the program, contact Jodie MacCallum on +61 (0)8 9422 6900.

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