Werribee’s community connection

Reclink participants at the Werribee FC development day.

Tara Murray

Werribee Football Club’s partnership with Reclink Australia continues to thrive.

The two organisations joined forces a couple of years ago, to use the power of sport to help give opportunities to people who may not otherwise get them.

The partnership has seen connections on the field and off the field, including a recently held football clinic run by Werribee players and coaches.

Werribee’s community manager Hamish MacInnes said the partnership had a positive impact on those at the club.

Reclink Australia is an organisation that runs sporting programs for people of all abilities, genders, ages and cultural backgrounds who have experienced or are experiencing disadvantage.

The partnership with Werribee helps further those opportunities.

“The relationship gives people at the club a sense of doing something in the community,” he said.

“The important thing is it involves people of all walks of life and ages. People who have gone through tough things, people with mental and physical disabilities and people who have gone through drug and alcohol recovery.

“The power of sport allows us to provide opportunities for all walks of life. In the sports industry, it helps us shine a light outside the wins and losses, which sport can be too heavily focused on.”

The club recently hosted its first development day with Reclink, having been involved in a development day in 2019.

The day brought together players from all 18 Reclink teams. WynBay Bulldogs is the only Wyndham team in the competition.

Players, senior coach Michael Barlow and SEDA [Sports Education Development Australia] college students who are currently at the club took charge of the day.

More than 80 people participated in the day with attendees engaging in football related drills and activities as well as being shown the Werribee facilities

Werribee handed out football and donated football boots to help the Reclink teams with much needed equipment and gear.

Reclink founder and director Peter Cullen, told the Werribee Football Club website, the occasion was significant in the lives of many of its participants.

“Many of the people here today are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and are coming from stints in rehab and from isolation into a community setting so it’s a very powerful thing.

“A lot of them are trying to pick up the tools of the sport and all the things that sport teaches us to go forward and take into our lives, and we really welcome and love the fact that we’ve been hosted by Werribee FC players and staff.”

MacInnes said the aim was to continue to have these days and look to have the Reclink organisation involved on Victorian Football League game days.

“Looking forward we want to host some Reclink competition games to run alongside our home games.

“There’s still a few hoops to go through. We might even one day have a Reclink footy team based out of Avalon Airport.”

MacInnes said they would look to strengthen the partnership in the coming years to come. He said what they had planned next was a little uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s something the club really looks highly on and something we get a lot out of,” he said.

“We’re improving people’s lives and making it better through sport.”