The Ball and American Consul meet Women’s Street Soccer Program

By Sarah Van Vooren, Atoot Co-Founder, Equal Playing Field Ambassador and part of our Spirit of Football Family

Continuing our work around Melbourne we visited The Big Issue Street Soccer women’s programme, which supports disadvantaged and marginalized women, many of whom have experienced homelessness, domestic violence, addiction and mental illness. These Street Soccer sessions give participants an opportunity to get active, make new friends and seek support in a fun and safe environment.

We arrived at the North Melbourne Community Centre where 14 women welcomed us. All were clearly excited to be brought together to play the beautiful game, they were revved up and ready to go. As each woman introduced herself, it was evident how inclusive and safe this space was for them – they were so open and honest of their struggles. Being able to access such an environment that promotes positive participation, inclusiveness, commitment and team spirit provides women with the support to make real changes in their lives.

A fantastic surprise visitor popped in just before we started our introductions, the U.S. Consul General in Melbourne, Kathleen Lively. She introduced herself and the U.S. Consulate Melbourne’s mission, I introduced Equal Playing Field and Spirit of Football introduced themselves and The Ball. After the formalities were finished, we all gathered on the pitch and introduced the women and the U.S. Consul General to Fair Football.

The U.S. Consul General quickly took to the match, passing around with ease, finding space to receive the ball and she even scored a goal! The Street Soccer women run a whole gambit of different ages and skill levels, which made Fair Play Football a perfect way to play. I was awestruck by the age range – from mid 20 years old through 87 years old. And the 87 year old scored a baker’s dozen of goals.

Speaking of that 87 year old woman, she only started playing football in her mid sixties. She told me that she wanted a new activity after she retired from her job. Upon finding this programme, she has never been happier. She noted that before she comes to these weekly football essions, she feels 3.5 out of 5. Once she gets out on the pitch and hangs out with her friends in the programme post session, she feels 5 out of 5. What a profound statement.

Connecting with positive communities and creating a better world for one another is what Spirit of Football, The Ball, Equal Playing Field and The Big Issue Street Soccer promote. If you have never kicked a ball before and are in Melbourne, head to the North Melbourne community center; The Big Issue Street Soccer women’s programme is waiting to welcome you into their ecosystem and play the beautiful game, no matter your ability.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *