Street soccer supports community
By Jemma van Zaanen
A community street soccer tournament supporting disadvantaged Victorians run by social enterprise The Big Issue will take place on November 18 in North Melbourne.
As part of its Victorian program, The Big Issue will host the event at the North Melbourne Community Centre on Boundary Rd, with disadvantaged players aged 16 and over from across Victoria to meet for a day of soccer and social interaction.
Founding the Community Street Soccer Program in 2007, the organisation provides free weekly sessions, giving participants across the country a chance to “get active, make new friends and seek support” in a welcoming environment.
The Big Issue is an inclusive organisation with a focus on disadvantaged players, catering to “all fitness levels and abilities” and supporting individuals’ needs.
More than 50 players who usually compete in the weekly initiative will come together for the tournament this month in an event national coach and co-founder George Halkias said would be the first large-scale tournament held since the end of the pandemic.
“The tournament will be a celebration of the Street Soccer program, which is designed to support disadvantaged people to improve their health through participation in sport,” Mr Halkias said.
With eight weekly programs across Melbourne, Mr Halkias said players had been chosen to compete based on their “attitude and efforts” in their weekly sessions.
“These are people who are experiencing mental health issues, homelessness, disability, long-term unemployment. They’re using the program as a platform to improve their mental health,” he said.
“We are putting on an event where players get to represent their programs, come together, and share some good times. It can also help boost self-esteem.”
The tournament, which will coincide with the Homeless World Cup, will take from 10.45am to 3pm on November 18
The Big Issue is also calling on volunteers to support its Street Soccer program. •
For more information: thebigissue.org.au/our-programs/street-soccer-program