For countless people and communities around the world, football is more than just a game. It has the unique ability to unite, empower and inspire beyond the confines of the pitch.
Football Victoria (FV) is aiming to channel these qualities into ‘Empowering Lives Through Football’, an early intervention program dedicated to supporting some of Victoria’s most at-risk youth groups.
The program is targeting 30 to 50 male and female youths who are at a high risk of offending or, are already displaying behaviours that may limit their ability to achieve positive life outcomes.
“Empowering Lives Through Football is a tremendous initiative that can make a positive impact to the lives of many young Victorians,” said Antonella Care, Football Victoria President.
Football Victoria's CEO, Kimon Taliadoros echoed Care's sentiment.
“Football often provides people with a strong sense of belonging and comradery. We believe we can harness this to help at-risk Victorians find a constructive outlet that will strengthen their ties to their local communities.”
The Empowering Lives Through Football initiative is a part of FV’s commitment to the Sports Alliance. The alliance, formed in June 2020 is a collective of sporting organisations who are working alongside State Government to use sport as a preventative for youth crime.
Backed by $1.4 million of funding, the programs are designed to target at-risk youth and address root causes of crime.
“It’s this kind of community leadership and collaboration that helps us build safer and stronger communities,” said Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events.
The group of attendees will be formed through a mixture of referrals from Victoria police, local schools and community groups.
Selected youths will attend educational sessions focused on mentoring, self-exploration, self-improvement and empowerment. There will be a strong emphasis on reducing anti-social attitudes and behaviour which can lead to a high-risk of offending.
In addition to workshops and education, the attendees will take part in football related activities such managing a public football carnival. There may also be opportunities to graduate to the Football Victoria Club Crime Prevention program and they will receive the relevant qualifications for their work.
To deliver the program, FV will work alongside Victoria Police, the State Government, Malmsbury and Parkville Youth Correctional Facilities, educational institutions, and local councils.
FV feels strongly that Empowering Lives Through Football will encourage at-risk youth to develop stronger community ties and pursue constructive pathway as football players, coaches, referees or football administrators.
While currently targeted towards 30-50 people, FV is seeking additional funding to expand the program. If successful, this would incorporate a further 100 people and allow expansion to parts of regional Victoria, including Ballarat and Shepparton.
For more information, contact Nick Hatzoglou, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Nick.Hatzoglou@footballvictoria.com.au.