Laverton Park Soccer Club kicks goals for new migrants.
DISADVANTAGED migrants and refugees have been given an opportunity to play soccer after receiving the Laverton Park Soccer Club received a community grant. The Hobsons Bay Community Fund allocated $3000 late last year to help the soccer club with its program to recruit young soccer players, particularly those from migrant and refugee backgrounds in the Laverton and Altona Meadows area.
Club vice-president Jason Curatolo said the money allowed the club to buy more soccer balls for training and match day games for their junior players. Mr Curatolo said the funds were also used to pay for the registration of six young players whose families could not afford the fees.
Originally a soccer club built around Melbourne's Chilean community, the club has expanded to take in players of many different nationalities. It now boasts young soccer players from Somalia, Colombia, Malta, Greece, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Italy, Macedonia and Mauritius, along with its original Chilean base.
Mr Curatolo said a number of the young players were refugees, while others were migrants.
"This funding from the Hobsons Bay Community Fund has allowed many kids to play soccer who would might not have been able to afford it," he said.
"Aside from those who could not afford the fees, the funds have allowed us to buy more equipment so that training was not compromised. "We have bought soccer balls and small goal sets for training."
The funds have allowed the Laverton Park Soccer Club to increase the number of junior teams from five to nine in 2011. This included extra under-7 and under-9 teams, making two for each of those grades, in addition to the under-11, under-13 and under-14 teams.
The club also has two senior teams playing in regional competitions each Saturday, plus two teams playing social matches on Sundays.
Mr Curatolo said the club now had about 80 young soccer players on its junior list, providing a potential base for the senior teams into the future. "Importantly, it is good for the young kids to be given an opportunity to play soccer," he said.
Hobsons Bay Community Fund chairman Hayden Raysmith said it was pleasing to see young kids from migrant and refugee backgrounds being given a chance to play sport.
"Child obesity is a problem in Australia, so keeping kids active in sport is important," Mr Raysmith said. "We know the assimilation difficulties faced by people who arrive in Australia from under-developed countries, but sport can break down these social barriers.
"The Laverton Park Soccer Club has shown leadership in expanding from its traditional Chilean base to welcome people from other nationalities, particularly from the African region.
"The Hobsons Bay Community Fund is pleased to get behind the club in its bid to give opportunities to disadvantaged kids who now call Australia home."