This weekend (Round 12 – July 23) will see the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) celebrate Community Round thanks to major partner, Monash University.
The SMJFL has a rich and diverse mix of players, umpires, volunteers and administrators and this week the league will celebrate this.
Recognising the backgrounds of all people that are included in our junior football community is important to nurture strong connections between individuals and groups.
Community Round is an initiative to identify the unique factors that make a footy club like family.
The bonds that are formed with a new member of the community is welcomed into a team or football club is one of the greatest things about sport.
Every club has ongoing programs, and events that give back to the local community, and some even reach out to other communities to connect through football.
It is this giving spirit that often goes unnoticed, but the difference one action can make to a person can be dramatic.
Whether this is a someone who is new to the club, perhaps from a cultural background vastly different to your own; or a chance for football to be the common language between groups from very different communities.
The power of football to connect communities is invaluable.
A wide range of initiatives all the way from grassroots football to the elite AFL level, ensure our sport is a vehicle that encourages community strengthening and inclusion within the wider Australian Community.
Australian football is becoming the sport of choice for diverse communities. Currently, up to 25% of current AFL lists are from diverse background (11% Indigenous and 14% Multicultural).
It is the work of local clubs, leagues and multicultural programs that are enabling more young talent to be identified and given more opportunities to aspiring young AFL players from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds.
Being part of a welcoming community has immeasurable social value, such as social connectedness, wellbeing and mental health status, employment outcomes, personal development, physical health, civic pride, and supportive network.
Football clubs provide an environment where people are more socially connected at every age group, compared to other people outside of this community group. The tightknit nature of a football club provides the perfect place to develop social networks (better than at work or school). Skills can be developed, not just on the field, including public speaking, problem solving, decision making, conflict resolution and connecting with people from diverse backgrounds.
The support and communication channels of a football club provide a quality vehicle for delivery of health and safety campaign messages for young people. This is particularly true for starting the conversations around wellbeing, physical and mental health. It does not matter where you live, how long or how often you are involved in a football club, or what role you have (player, coach, volunteer, supporter) in the club, people associated with a football club experience greater social connectedness, well-being and self-reported physical and mental health.
Football clubs harness the collective energy of players, coaches, administrators, volunteers and supporters to not only delivery sport and social activities for members, but for their respective communities.