Football Victoria to participate in program assisting at-risk teens

Football Victoria has announced it will join other major sporting organisations in a combined effort to help at-risk teens turn away from anti-social activity.

Over the weekend, Immediate former Minister for Crime Prevention and Safety, the Hon Ben Carroll announced the establishment of a new Sports Alliance between sporting organisations and the Victorian State Government.

Backed by $1.4 million in funding from the Government, the Alliance will focus on supporting at-risk youth and addressing the causes of crime.

It will deliver programs focused on engaging young people, building community connections and supporting young offenders to turn their lives around.

Sports Alliance members include Peter Filopoulos (CEO, Football Victoria), Nick Honey (CEO, Basketball Victoria), Dave Donaghy (CEO, Melbourne Storm), Rosie King (CEO, Netball Victoria), Sam Graham (Head of States and Game Development, AFL) and Minister for Community Sport and Youth Ros Spence.

Mr Filopoulos said the decision to form Sports Alliance came from the respective organisations realising they could use their collective strengths to drive outcomes for at-risk teens.

“One of the main reasons that teenagers can drift into anti-social behaviour is because of their lack of integration and connectedness - a feeling that they are not part of the broader society,” he said.

“For young people, sport is arguably one of the most effective ways to form social bonds, find support and structure and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.”

“We have seen for a number of years how sport has been a key driver in turning many at-risk teens away from offensive behaviours that may limit them from achieving positive life outcomes. However, it is evident that there is so much more we can accomplish in this space, and by using Sports Alliance, we’ll be able to pool our resources to reach more youths than ever before.”

“I applaud the Andrews Government for leading this initiative. Thanks in particular must go to Minister Carroll for bringing all these organisations together and empowering sports to do what they do best, which is bringing the community together. ”

The Sports Alliance will also provide opportunities for sportspeople to contribute as mentors or program facilitators.

An initial focus will be on early intervention and prevention strategies via the development of online resources and a mentoring program that will  support vulnerable young people and communities. Community programs and initiatives will be developed as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions continue to ease enabling individuals to develop a greater sense of belonging, self-confidence and important social skills.

The Alliance will support the establishment of Sports Academies in Victoria’s youth justice centres. This will see all young people in custody enrolled in either basketball, AFL, football, rugby league or All Abilities fitness programs.