Kensington Junior Soccer Club kicking goals after scoring community grant

Kensington Junior Soccer Club kicking goals after scoring community grant
Brendan Rees

Kensington Junior Soccer Club is set to launch an ambassador program to encourage more girls to play and coach soccer thanks to a $4800 grant from the City of Melbourne.

Club president Andrew Hollow said it hoped to attract more young women from the culturally diverse communities where they could “come down, play a bit of music, learn how to kick a ball, and have a bit of fun.”

“We’re rapt the City of Melbourne can see real merit in what we’re trying to do and include all the local communities – it’s a very inclusive community,” he said.

The funding is part of the council’s Connected Communities Grants which recognises the importance of community-building projects and creating a sense of belonging.

Mr Hollow said he hoped the new program would run three to four times this year with the aim of young women going on to play in a team.

“We have 125 girls now and are hoping for as many as possible for the program from all communities within the City of Melbourne and beyond,” he said.

“The reality for most of them is they’ll be joining their school friends playing soccer which would be fantastic.”

He said its younger age teams were predominately male and made up of 30 to 40 per cent of kids from diverse communities which was “nowhere near the same representation for the girls”.

Mr Hollow said while the club, which was run by parents at JJ Holland Park, would use social media to promote its program, it also hoped to reach out to community leaders “to break down those barriers” with diverse communities.

He said the club would also work with Victoria University’s new “change makers” program which aims to empower newly arrived migrants and refugees in Melbourne’s west to participate in sport and physical activity.

According to Victoria University, Melbourne’s west has a very high portion of migrants and refugees who are under-represented in sport. This is due to a range of structural and cultural barriers including cost, transport, language issues, and lack of family support.

Meanwhile, the Kensington Stockyard Food Garden Inc was awarded $2000 in funding through council’s grants program.

The garden’s chair Nan Austin said the grant would go towards its accident insurance costs to cover its 127 volunteers.

“We do run off the council grants as our primary source of income for doing any major purchases or changes to the gardens so it’s very important to us,” she said.

“Obviously the bulk of it goes towards our insurance, and any extras tend to go towards the fertilisers, seed raising mix, and that sort of thing.”

The group grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers while providing a vibrant meeting place and encouraging mindfulness.

“We started off with an initial 30 beds, and since then with council financial support we’ve extended to 90 raised garden beds. Plus, we put in a fruit forest last year so now we’ve got about over 100 sqm of growing space,” Ms Austin said.

The food garden also does a large pick every month, providing up to 10kg of food to the McCracken St Food Share Pantry, which is supported by Kensington Neighbourhood House.

Other community recipients to be awarded grants include the Kensington Neighbourhood House ($20,000), the Kensington Association ($1871), and the Kensington Chinese Friendship Association Inc ($2000) •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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