The popularity of the Australian Football League Women’s competition last summer has resulted in an increased number of women and girls wanting to play in sports clubs. As local councils and sports organisations search for ways to accommodate these new sportspeople, community groups are delivering free sport programs to young people as a ‘stepping stone’ towards joining sports clubs.
The Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), along with program partner Chobani Australia, hosts the Women’s Sporting Hub at the Noble Park English Language School. The Hub was created in response to a lack of opportunities to participate in free and organised sport in the area. After consultation with local sports clubs, CMY found there were several recurring challenges discouraging young people from participating in sport programs. The timing of activities was found to be crucial — many programs were delivered too late for young girls to attend, or the venues were difficult to reach by public transport.
Local young people offered their advice on timing, location and the sports they would prefer to play. Subsequently, the Women’s Sports Hub is becoming available after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout 2017 at the Noble Park English Language School, offering badminton, hockey, soccer and volleyball programs. The young people will then attend excursions to sports clubs, enabling them to familiarise themselves with the environment. It is hoped that this pathway of participation and engagement will create a smooth transition into traditional sport club membership.
Sean Dixon, Sports Engagement Officer at CMY was involved in planning, researching and delivering the Women’s Sports Hub. “It has been great for the girls to create a sporting space that they can call their own,” he said. “Everything at Women’s Sporting Hub has been organised by the girls, we just help them connect the dots.” Dixon has also been blown away by the distances the young people travel to take part in the activities, with some travelling from as far as Oakleigh and Pakenham.
Participation in sports clubs can often pose unique challenges for people from diverse backgrounds. Fortunately, community organisations continue to work together to create pathways that support the social inclusion of young people.
Women's Sporting Hub Flyer: Click Here
Special thanks to Chobani Australia for their support of Sports Without Borders programs and for encouraging social inclusion of new and emerging communities through sport.