Wellington Phoenix will launch the season season of its community diversity and inclusion programme – named ‘Football For All’ – at its only game in Wellington, on Saturday 22 May against Western United.
The launch will take place at Sky Stadium at the club’s A-League match against Western United, with attendance from members of all the community groups involved, Capital Football, College Sport as well as Minister for Sport and Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson and Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities.
Run in conjunction with Football For the Community Diversity Trust and funded by Lloyd Morrison Trust and the Club, the programme funds 100 young football players to play football in the region, who otherwise would not have been able to participate.
Football For All helps former refugees and lower socio-economic communities to play football, with the programme covering the cost of club subscriptions and playing strips, and New Balance providing participants with football boots.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager, David Dome, says that the club has taken learnings from previous iterations to offer an enhanced, participant-driven programmes for 2021.
“Crucially, we identified a major barrier to participation for these communities which was transport; so Football For All now also funds transport to and from trainings and matches, employing local coordinators to provide for all participants to ensure their on-going participation,” said Dome.
Dome says that Football For All is targeted at families and communities where inclusion is especially important.
“A specific area of focus is the Muslim community following the events of March 2019; this programme aims to foster inclusivity, participation and well-being by using sport as a vehicle to help inclusion.
“The programme is designed to have these children integrated into existing teams - not creating new teams exclusively from the communities themselves – with community coordinators selected in conjunction with local community groups and football clubs in association with Capital Football, to ensure we’re getting the right people with the right skill-sets.”
The programme is achieving its aim of being a truly multi-cultural activity, with a wide variety of ethnicities involved including 58% from the Middle East, 14% Asian, 6% Maori & Pacific Island, 6% South American, and 6% NZ European.
New Zealand Police’s National Manager for Engagement Ethnic, Rakesh Naidoo – who has been involved in the programme since its inception – said “the programme is an excellent example of understanding and providing what our diverse communities need; It focuses efforts through partnerships to achieve better outcomes for all.”
At A Glance
What: Football For All
Main parties: Wellington Phoenix, Football For the Community Diversity Trust
Funders: Wellington Phoenix, Lloyd Morrison Trust, New Balance
Began: 2020; now in its second season
Community Partners: Capital Football, College Sport, New Zealand Police, Multicultural Councils Of New Zealand, Changemakers Refugee Forum, New Zealand Red Cross, Changemakers Resettlement Forum, Oranga Tamariki, New Zealand Human Rights Commission, National Council of Women.