Hero Stories

Toolangi Soccer Camp Given The Blue Light

Toolangi Adventure Soccer Camp (TASC) is a four day camp that brings together young men from housing estates to broaden their experiences. This year it was opened up to include non-housing estate kids so that all participants could engage with people from different lifestyles.

The camp aims to help at-risk youth and give them a sense of belonging and acceptance in their local community. It is an initiative of the Victoria Police’s Blue Light program and community sports coach Peter Divine. The eighth camp was run recently with a partnership between Sports Without Borders, Victoria Police, Australian Sports Commission, Yarra Youth Services, APS Sport, Out Doors Inc, Foodbank Victoria, Melbourne Victory FC, Richmond Boxing Club and the Marian & EH Flack Trust.

For the first time it included a student from Xavier College who joined the usual group of participants. “They embraced him and they worked together to achieve what they wanted to achieve,” said camp organiser and leading senior officer Chris McGeachan, also known as ‘Geeks’ to his mates.

McGeachan has known some of the kids for 10 years and is a mentor to them. It’s his job to bring people together through sport and recreation, something made easier as most teenagers usually get involved. “They’ll connect through sport and they’ll have a go at something. It gives them some focus and direction,” he said.

The camps offer McGeachan a unique opportunity to spend quality time with some of the young men. The TASC team organise four days’ worth of activities, including playing on inflatable soccer pitches, high-level soccer skills coaching and friendly competitions with both a table tennis and soccer tennis tournament. Out Doors Inc also provided an adventure for the kids at the Maroondah Reservoir, with a unique take on an ‘amazing race’.

The camp provides platforms for the teenagers to take a lead and show what they can offer. “To see them in that sort of environment is very unique and it gives me another look at how they’re growing and how they’re developing as young people which is pretty special,” said McGeachan.

Photo by Francesco Vicenzi