Games steer youth away from crime
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.
Police and sport representatives joined local young people at the first Pilbara Night Fields game on Millars Well Oval.