SINCE joining Ballarat Street Soccer,Shanee Donnelly and Noel Southall have been learning how to overcome challenges in their lives through football and they’ve picked up a few ball skills along the way.
As a reward for their commitment, the young Ballarat residents have been selected to represent the state in this weekend’s National Street Soccer Championships at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
The tournament will include more than 50 players from The Big Issue’s Community Street Soccer Program, a national initiativethat helps people experiencing homelessness, disability and unemployment.
Ballarat Street Soccer coordinator Laura Wallis said the program was all about creating an environment where there were no labels about where people came from, and where participation and inclusiveness were encouraged.
“We get a catchment of varied backgrounds that are not connected with mainstream opportunities,”she said.
Mr Southall, 23, who joined the program 18 months ago, said he had gained “fun and friends”, while Shanee, 17, was introduced to the sport through her brothers and sisters.
“I get to show off all my skills, what I can do, and have a good time,” Shanee said.
Coach Richard Nash said both players were excited for Sydney, where they could be playing to crowds of up 10,000 people. Rebel Sport Ballarat has supported the duo by supplying them with a new pair of soccer shoes to use in Sydney and to keep as mementos.
Ballarat Street Soccer trains at Morshead Park on Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm. For information contact Laura Wallis on 0423371132.