Youth Leader Courtney joins the Michael Johnson Young Leader Course

Football United youth leader Courtney Cocoran-Roberts is heading to Dallas in mid-June to join young leaders from around the world at the Michael Johnson Young Leader course, where she will be exposed to the environment of a world class sporting institution while receiving training and exploratory education in leadership, life-skills, cultural and community engagement. 

Courtney will also receive an annual stipend to continue her academic, athletic, and social program over the following 12-months. 

Courtney is a young Aboriginal woman from Kamilaroi country currently in her final year of study to become a Physical Development and Health Education teacher.  She has been involved in Football United as a participant, coach and youth leader since her time at Evans High School in 2012.

Courtney has a love for all sports however her passion is with dance which has given her the opportunity to travel to San Diego to represent Australia at Hip Hop Internationals in 2015. 

Since returning from working in a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, her desire to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) youth within her own community has strengthened. Courtney considers herself extremely fortunate to be given guidance throughout her youth and believe that she should extend this same guidance and leadership opportunities to current ATSI youth.

She plans to work alongside Football United and the local community to develop and offer a culturally-specific program that uses sport to promote social change and to promote and strengthen positive social and leadership skills within the youth through these programs.

Liverpool FC Legends join Football United and RMF

We spent this weekend at a series of Fair Play tournaments and training sessions with Liverpool FC Legends Craig Johnston, Gary McAllister and Jason McAteer, Reagan Milstein Foundation and Football Music Culture at Ultimate Soccer in Fairfield. 

Football United is extremely honoured to coordinate such events in esteem company, and our coaches and volunteers look forward to watching the titans of English football battle our official A-League partner and recently crowned champions of Australia, Sydney FC. 

A big week

As I sit here icing my knee recovering from an ACL reco, I reflect on the big week we had. Thousands of women and men around the world acknowledged women, organising events where women shared their stories and inspired others. Depending on which side of the fence you sit with regards to celebrating a day or week specifically for women, we know that story telling, sharing our challenges and strategies, and connecting with others makes us feel good.  

Capacity building for young women and gender equality is embedded in the work we do at Creating Chances and Football United. Over the years we’ve seen participants grow, developing the confidence to pursue opportunities and work towards a goal, at the same time staying connected to the organisation. As we do every year, we decided to dedicate the week to our female staff, volunteers and participants in our program. The theme was #inspireconnectplay. Just over 200 girls from diverse backgrounds came together to be inspired, to connect with new people, and to play sport (or maybe just take a day off school? And then soon realise they were inspired, they connected and they played and had a bloody good time). Participants travelled from East to West of Sydney; they were girls who had just recently arrived to the Australia supported and encouraged by their teachers and peers to gain new experiences, Indigenous Australian senior school leaders, soccer players, rugby players, all took part throughout the week.

Many of us are familiar with the power sport has to creative positive social change,  foster positive youth development, self confidence and a growth mindset, and to provide a platform to share information and educate girls and women and their communities about women's rights, health issues and more. But in most cases the environment is dominated by male coaches and male management. Female coaches, administrators and role models are vital components for ongoing participation and increasing equality.

I like to take pride in the work we do at Football United and Creating Chances. A 2015 report by The Women's Game (“Girls football participation hits all-time high”), highlights the reasons for increased participation of football for girls from minority groups and migrant communities, and makes specific reference to Football United’s role in this achievement. We face many challenges, but it helps that 40% of our coaching and facilitation staff are female. At a grassroots level we are able to address this gender bias and provide access to coaching qualifications and opportunities to use these skills within their community. The gender balanced environment provided by Football United not only increases short term participation amongst females but also the long term opportunities to grow and diversify the volunteer and paid workforce available to Football in Australia. Not only is it about growing the confidence of female players but it is also about normalising women in leadership positions. Most of our female coaches and facilitators and incredibly influential to boys and girls in our programs.

Women and Leadership

At our Gilbert and Tobin Young Women’s Forum, Moya Dodd (FIFA exco member, AFC member, former Matilda) reminded the girls (all of us actually) that “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”. The message is clear: be yourself, and think about how we think about ourselves. Moya also pointed out that it was 5 years since the FIFA hijab ban was lifted. A campaign led by Prince Ali, Hesterine, and Moya to lift the ban placed on Muslim women who choose to wear hijab on the football field. Take small steps to cross the river and you’ll get to where you want to go. The efforts to lift the ban took 5 years. But in that time there was a huge growth in Muslim women’s participation in sport.

This week has made me reflect on how far we’ve come since the days that inspired me to do what I do. In 2005 I was faced with a dilemma that threatened my ability to play the sport that I loved. In 2008 I found other women in a similar position to me and I knew something had to be done. While I was at university, I took it upon myself to organise an inter-university women’s futsal competition open to members of the community. Not long after that I was contacted by a migrant resource centre to help develop a ‘youth empowerment through sport’ program for girls from refugee and newly arrived communities. I had developed a swimming for health program, using my experience and passion for swim education to promote healthy relationships and healthy lifestyles parallel to swimming lessons. I also developed leadership camps and futsal competitions for women. While the challenges still exist, parents are realising the role sport plays in the development of their children, especially when see they other successful and inspirational women in sport as positive role models for their daughters.

Our week featured women with such calibre. The Female Football Festival (celebrating Female Football Week with Sydney FC and Football NSW), The Sydney FC match day event and the regular 25 programs we run per week were all managed and facilitated by extraordinary women.  

This week has also given me the chance to further reflect on my leadership and the position I am in. Being a footballer and a former captain has instilled within me values that guide my actions and decisions daily such as taking responsibility for myself and my team, being resilient and thinking positive when we are behind or faced with challenges. My faith also teaches me values of striving for excellence in everything that I do. In June 2016 I was fortunate to have taken part in the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy in the UK, a program bringing together women in middle management positions in sport. It gave me the chance to network, identify my strengths, develop mentoring and strategic thinking skills and set the wheels in motion to achieve my short to long term vision.

I’m a believer that humans are inherently good, and want to do good. People want to be part of something but often don’t know how. I am fortunate and blessed to have been mentored by some incredible people generous enough to take time to guide me. Now that I am in the position I’m in, I feel that it is my duty to pass on what I’ve learnt to others; to allow others the chance to join you on the journey whilst also providing them opportunities to set their own path and create their own story – they will endure challenges and make mistakes. I’ve learnt to be ok with making mistakes - I’ve learnt to get on with it and do it better and different the next time.

Assmaah Helal

#InspireConnectPlay

Female Football Week coincided with International Women's Day, and we celebrated over 3  wonderful days with Gilbert + Tobin, Sydney FC, Football NSW and UNSW. 

First up Gilbert and Tobin hosted our #InspireConnectPlay forum with students from Kingswood, Jamison, Arthur Phillip, Evans and Miller High Schools. FIFA Executive Committee Member Moya Dodd lead an inspired morning, and students discussed advocacy under the #BeBoldForChange banner. In the afternoon students presented their advocacy projects to a panel, and engaged in a Q+A forum with representatives from Football United, Sydney FC, Gilbert + Tobin and Hyundai. 

Second, Football NSW hosted the Sydney FC F,ootball United and Creating Chances Female Football Festival, bringing together students from across Sydney to connect and play small sided games whilst being inspired by the stories of our wonderful special guest role models, including Moya, Areti Theodorou and NSW Multicultural. 

Finally we joined Sydney FC for their A-League match against Central Coast Mariners, where students from 3 schools joined the players on the field and for a half-time kick about. 

We also put together a series of films of our legend staff and volunteers, which can be seen below! 

Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners

We celebrated our incredible 8-year partnership with Sydney FC this last week, coinciding with Female Football Week and International Women's Day. 

Youth from our Miller Technology High School and Arthur Phillip High School programs joined young students from Briar Road Primary School on the field before kick-off, and Miller student Athmar Habeb presented the match ball to the referee! 

Thanks Sydney FC and UNSW for an exciting partnership. 

Festival 16 Book Available

It's been 7 months since our team descended on Lyon for Streetfootballworld's Festival 16, and we're excited to get our hands on the Festival 16 Book and reminisce!

There's a great interview from Maccia Al-Hamwi, Football United's representative on the Streetfootballworld Youth Advisory Board, and each of our participants and Youth Leaders are pictured throughout. 

Download the Festival 16 Book here. 

Back to the Start: Reflections on Festival16 in Lyon

In Football United's tenth year, we were absolutely ecstatic when we received the invitation to attend the Streetfootballworld Festival in Lyon in June 2016. France is where the dream all began! We are incredibly moved than I at the generosity of all of you who have helped make so many dreams come true with your generous giving to help us get to Lyon.

Here's a recap from the players, youth leaders and staff who made the journey to France. 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Fair Play Festival 2016

For the eighth consecutive year, Football United's annual Fair Play Festival provided opportunities for hundreds of youth to compete, meet new people and have fun. This year we joined forces with our friends from Creating Chances to deliver the biggest festival to date. 

On Thursday 1 December, 270 children and youth descended upon Valentine Sports Park. Students from Miller Technology, Fairfield, Lurnea, Evans, Matraville Sports, Arthur Phillip, Liverpool Boys, Airds, Cambridge Park and Prairiewood High Schools joined volunteers to explore a range of team-building activities before they returned to their school colours to represent their schools. 

In the Girls competition Cambridge Park overcame Fairfield in a tense final. A dominant Arthur Phillip HS took out the Junior Boys competition with a convincing victory over Liverpool Boys HS in the final. An all Miller Technology IEC final saw friends become adversaries, with one team outlasting the other 2-1.

#FootballUnitedTen

We've had a great time in November sharing stories from the first ten years of Football United. On Sunday 13 November long-term partners Sydney FC hosted close to 200 youth, volunteers, staff and friends during their W-League and A-League matches at Allianz Stadium. 

Sydney FC give Football United a shout-out!

Sydney FC give Football United a shout-out!

On Wednesday 23 November it was fellow long-term partners Gilbert and Tobin's turn to host our friends as over 100 packed into their new Barangaroo office to acknowledge our impact since 2006. FIFA Executive Committee member and Gilbert and Tobin partner Moya Dodd discussed the importance of football in the world right now, as a tool to heal wounds and bring people together. 

The team at Football United is extremely grateful to all those who joined us these last few weeks to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. We continue our mission to create chances for children and youth through the magic of football. We are continuously inspired by our supporters, colleagues, teachers, coaches, volunteers, families, and especially the children and youth we work for.

Founder Anne Bunde-Birouste introduces Moya Dodd.

Founder Anne Bunde-Birouste introduces Moya Dodd.

Laureus Sport for Good Summit 2016

Director Anne Bunde-Birouste flew to Germany in October to join hundreds of people from around the world who use sport as a tool for social good.

Photo: Laureus (2016)

Photo: Laureus (2016)

Earlier this year Laureus Sport for Good Ambassadors joined youth from our Evans High School program to celebrate Harmony Day. 

Football United youth and Laureus Ambassadors (2016)

Football United youth and Laureus Ambassadors (2016)

Football United has been a beneficiary of the Laureus Sport for Good program in recent years, and has worked alongside fellow Australian beneficiary - the Cathy Freeman Foundation - to create chances for newly arrived youth and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander youth to connect, play sports and learn life skills. 

Football in the Park launches

We're excited to launch 4 new community programs this term in partnership with local football clubs and community organisations in Lakemba, Fairfield, Auburn and Granville. Select the image below for more details. 

These programs are delivered by Creating Chances and supported by LMA's Thrive program and CMRC's Youth Transitions Program. 

Field of Dreams 2 at Streetfootballworld Festival 16

In June and July our team from Football United joined scores of others from all over the world in Lyon at Streetfootballworld's magnificent Festival 16. 

The Football United team, representing Australia, is made up of students from Cambridge Park HS, Evans HS and Granville South HS. Margie Andreasson and Karam Alkhamasy led the group, with Alhassan Diallo and Theo Birouste joining as Festival 16 volunteers.

Director Anne Bunde-Birouste joined the team to launch the festival song, an adapted version of Football United's Field of Dreams, written in 2012 by Michael McGlynn and his team from Vienna People. 

International Women's Day

Football United's Community Coordinator Assmaah Helal, looks at the world of Sport for Development and Peace to celebrate the achievements of women and #pledgeforparity. 

 “Football today is overwhelmingly male – not because women and girls are inherently disinterested or incapable, but rather due to decades of institutional and social barriers that prevent them from playing.”

Moya Dodd

Vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee

 

Football embraces equal participation opportunities for males and females. But in most cases the environment is dominated by male coaches, male managers and male role models. Female coaches, administrators and role models are vital components for ongoing participation and increasing equality.

TheWomensGame’s recent report, “Girls football participation hits all-time high”, highlights the reasons for increased participation of football for girls from minority groups and migrant communities, and makes specific reference to Football United’s role in this achievement.

Football United is able to address this gender bias and provides access to coaching qualifications and opportunities to use these skills within their community. Over 40% of Football United coaches are female. The gender balanced environment provided by Football United not only increases short term participation amongst females but also the long term opportunities to grow and diversify the volunteer and paid workforce available to Football in Australia.

The strategic aims of Strong Women, Strong World are focused on:

  1. SAFE SPACES: Providing culturally appropriate sporting activities and environments for girls and their families, particularly from refugee and migrant backgrounds to participate comfortably.  i.e. girls only spaces, creating a safe space, building positive relationships with families and schools, providing inspiring female role models from within the community to coach. 
  2. ROLE MODELS: Build the capacity of young women from diverse communities with the skills required to navigate life effectively and contribute to the wider Australian community as agents of positive social change i.e. through coach education, advocacy training, mentoring and leadership camps and forums.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Football United facilitates an annual Strong Women. Strong World forum inviting program participants and inspiring female leaders identified through corporate and community partners from various professions to share stories, challenges, and provide an opportunity to network and engage in capacity building activities.

What more can you do to leverage sport to consistently provide equal opportunities for women and girls? 

Football United Corporate Euro Cup

Football United partnered up with Australiance to bring the 2016 Corporate #EuroCup to life! Saturday 5 March saw teams congregate from across Sydney to compete in a fun, vibrant tournament with an emphasis on fair play and underpinned by a real sense of purpose and giving. 

Team Brazil edged the final with a high quality final edged on penalties over Team X. 

Proceeds of the tournament will support the Football United participants who will make their way to Lyon, France to represent Australia in Festival16, to be held during the European Championships in early July.