Last Friday saw the Wellington Phoenix and Wollongong City Council come together to offer a fun and unique Youth Centre workshop for children living in the Wollongong region.
Wellington Phoenix stars David Ball, Cameron Devlin and Joshua Laws were special guests at the Council-run event at MacCabe Park, which saw the A-League players interact with children via a series of small games, football drills and a question-and-answer session.
22-year-old Cameron Devlin said that the session was as fun and engaging for the players as it was for the children involved.
“The event was great, Bally, Josh Laws and I just enjoyed playing around and having a laugh with these brilliant kids from the Wollongong community – they were just so grateful and so happy we were there playing around with them and having a game with them,” said Devlin.
“For us as players, we were once these kids ourselves and [meeting your heroes] is something that I’ll never forget and the boys won’t either, it just puts a smile on our face.
“To be able to rock up and have a kickaround with these kids and to be able to say we made their day is so special for us - and a privilege.”
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that the relationship the Council has built with the Phoenix have been an extremely positive one for both parties – and for the community.
“We’re excited to be working with Wellington Phoenix to ensure our community has access to the benefits of having an A-League team based in Wollongong,” Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.
“What an opportunity it was to have our local football enthusiasts hone and develop their skills with professional players; Wollongong is fast becoming an internationally recognised sporting destination thanks to our high-quality sportsgrounds and sporting facilities.
“Our relationship with Wellington Phoenix has seen us able to provide tickets to home games to some members of our community who might otherwise not have an opportunity to attend an A-League game. Council has distributed tickets to community members through several local agencies such as the Wollongong Homeless Hub, Illawarra Housing Trust and Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) to name a few.
“The Wollongong community is passionate about their sports and it’s no secret that football is a popular game in our city.”
Devlin says that the getting out into the Wollongong community is a must-do for the players and the football club.
“It’s important obviously, as players we’re all missing Wellington so much and the great fans that we have there - so for us living in Wollongong over the past six months it’s good to get out in the community and the local kids, to spend time with people who have supported us and been to our games, who have shown us the support we’ve been missing from Wellington fans.
“For us as a team it’s so important and heart-warming, and we’re hoping we can get a few more people into the grandstands for our last couple of games too.”
The Wellington Phoenix next plays at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on ANZAC Day – Sunday 25 April 2021 - from 4.10pm AEDT. Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.au