Wellington Phoenix have today announced their new FootbALL diversity programme in front of fans and members at their Community Day in Wellington.
An initiative between the club, the Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, ChangeMakers Refugee Forum and Multicultural New Zealand, the programme sees former refugees in the region being offered a season ticket for the 17/18 season as a recognition of the important role sport plays in building bridges between individuals and across communities.
Phoenix general manager David Dome said the FootbALL initiative was born out of desire to express and embody the diversity that is Wellington and New Zealand.
“The recent re-brand of the club was our way of embodying the bi-culturalism that is New Zealand, and the beautiful and inspiring story of Ngake the taniwha of Wellington harbour has added a lot to the club during our pre-season,” said Dome.
“There was a feeling in the club during the off-season that we work in a code that is loved by the world over and that there were many in our community who told us they would love to come to our games but are just not in a position to do so.
“We have been supported by a number of the councils represented at today’s launch, and especially Wellington City Council, and the club felt like a diversity programme was one way we could say thanks to the Councils and work with them on their settlement and integration programmes for former refugees.”
The offer of a season ticket to the Phoenix was offered to all recent refugee immigrants to the wider Wellington region in the last 12 months and co-ordinated through Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, ChangeMakers Refugee Forum and Multicultural New Zealand.
“Belonging to a community begins when all of us feel welcome and part of it, so this kind of initiative is a very important way to let all our community members know they are welcome,” said Rakesh Naidoo, Human Rights Commission Race Relations Strategic Advisor.
“Today is a milestone that we can all be very proud of as New Zealanders and football people.”
The launch was attended by Naidoo as well as regional Mayors Justin Lester, Wayne Guppy, Ray Wallace, Mike Tana and member for Rongotai Paul Eagle.
The Wellington Phoenix play their first game of the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League season on Sunday 8 October at 5pm against Adelaide United.