GOALS Program in Westfield Sports High and Fairfield High School, NSW

Delivered by former Socceroos captain Paul Wade OAM, the Gaining Opportunities and Life Skills (GOALS) Program ran for 5-week program in Western Sydney earlier this year. 

Sports Without Borders NSW, with the support of Telco Together and in partnership with Office of Communities – Sport and Recreation, STARTTS, MTC AustraliaYouth Connections and South West Connections helped bring the GOALS Program to twenty students from Sydney’s west.

From 13 – 16 year olds, the students come from newly arrived humanitarian backgrounds such as Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Assyria. And each week the students came together for 2 hours where Wade shared his life experiences and challenged their thinking. Wade emphasised, with examples, how they can work both individually, and as a team, to make informed decisions and achieve success.

“A lot of the kids are disengaged,” says Wade, “and this program is designed to offer positive reinforcement.”

The first hour was in the classroom where Wade engaged with the students to help improve their self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. Western Sydney Wanderers players Servet Uzunlar and Georgia Rowntree supported Wade in the classroom. In the following hour, the students took part in fun, physical activities that reinforced the life skills spoken about in the classroom. These outdoor activities were designed to further encourage confidence and inclusion.

“I kept saying you don’t have to win a world cup to be successful,” says Wade, “it’s the small things count, like setting your alarm so your mum doesn’t have to wake you. And the kids got it. During the games they’d score a goal and shout ‘Wadey, that’s success!’”

Each week of the 5-week program had a different focus:

Week 1 – Success – Achievements, Self Esteem, Confidence

The discussions and focus was on what is success, what does it look like. Examples ranged from sporting achievements to completing assignments and turning up to school on time!

Week 2 – Motivators – Goals, Fears, My best, Rewards, Other People

The focus for week 2 was on the reasons why we do things and the consequences of our actions. It was about perseverance, asking for help along the way and overcoming fear.

Week 3 – Choices – Ownership, Knowledge, Preparation, Leadership, Problem Solving, Resilience

This week involved discussions around the choices we make and the consequences of our actions. Wade shared his story about the choices he made to achieve his goals and become a player and captain of the Socceroos. The students then shared their stories about choices they have made.

Week 4 – Teamwork, Communication, Relationships, Respect, Attitude, Co-operation, Tolerance

Week 4’s focus was on team work, the need to communicate to each other, co-operate and most importantly respect and accept each other no matter from where you are from.

Week 5 – Program Review

The last week saw the students sign autographs and got each other’s autograph on a large Socceroos poster. They then became “coaches” where they took control and had to conduct drills with each other bringing together all the lessons learnt over the 5 weeks.

The 5-week program was a great success, and the students gained more self-esteem and became more confident by the end of the program.

“The feedback from teachers highlights the change in students.” Says Wade, “sometimes teachers come up and say that kid could never have done that three weeks ago, like joining in or shaking my hand, and this makes the program all worth while.” 

Thanks to Telco Together for their support. Additionally some of the students have applied for and been awarded SWB Sports Scholarships to register and play soccer with their local clubs to further promote sport as a tool for social inclusion