Games steer youth away from crime

Pilbara News - - Sports - Ali­cia Per­era

A pro­gram de­signed to en­gage at-risk youth through or­gan­ised weekly foot­ball games has ar­rived in the Pil­bara.

The WA Foot­ball Com­mis­sion Night Fields pro­gram pro­vides cost­free struc­tured matches, open to lo­cal boys and girls aged 6-17 each Satur­day night over the com­ing months.

The first game took place last week­end.

While all young peo­ple are wel­come, it is pri­mar­ily aimed at re­con­nect­ing at-risk youth with a fun, flex­i­ble game for­mat where they can be ac­tive, make friends, and get sup­port from com­mu­nity ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

WA Foot­ball Com­mis­sion Pil­bara re­gional de­vel­op­ment man­ager Vicki Agnew said the WAFC had rolled out Night Fields to the Pil­bara be­cause it had sim­i­lar ju­ve­nile crime rates to some metropoli­tan ar­eas.

“The pro­gram’s ba­si­cally de­signed to give dis­en­gaged kids some­thing to do and to fight crime in par­tic­u­lar. We work closely with the po­lice and Youth Jus­tice Ser­vices,” she said.

“If we put this on, there’s no cost and the kids can come down, play footy, wear them­selves out, build re­la­tion­ships with the po­lice, the youth work­ers, and we can ad­dress so­cial is­sues and build those re­la­tion­ships.”

“They can have a feed and then we can drop them back to a safe place.

“They’re go­ing to get fit, they’re go­ing to meet new friends, and they might start play­ing club foot­ball.”

Night Fields has been suc­cess­fully run­ning in se­lect metropoli­tan and re­gional lo­ca­tions since 2015 and the Pil­bara is only the third re­gion to have it af­ter the Gold­fields and Al­bany. Its lo­cal sup­port­ers in­clude Kar­ratha po­lice, Youth Jus­tice Ser­vices, City of Kar­ratha youth work­ers and club de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cers, REFAP, Yaan­d­ina, EPIC and the De­part­ments of Sport and Recre­ation, Re­gional De­vel­op­ment and Ed­u­ca­tion.

Ms Agnew said the hope was for the pro­gram to be­come self-suf­fi­cient with its own lo­cal co-or­di­na­tor and later for it to branch out into Roe­bourne and Hed­land.

“One of these older boys we might be able to train up to co-or­di­nate it or to um­pire. We can train the younger boys up to coach, the lo­cal clubs will come down and sup­port it, so the kids are get­ting a good deal,” she said.

“Even­tu­ally I would ex­pect that the kids would come down, they bring their younger brother or sis­ter, Nan and Pop come down and sit and watch, (and they) have a bar­be­cue and kick the footy.”

Night Fields games run from 6pm-9pm ev­ery Satur­day un­til April 8 at Millars Well Oval.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

Po­lice and sport rep­re­sen­ta­tives joined lo­cal young peo­ple at the first Pil­bara Night Fields game on Millars Well Oval.

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