Melbourne City FC welcomed junior players from Mildura United Soccer Club on Sunday as part of the Club’s annual Indigenous Recognition Round at AAMI Park.
A flat tyre leading to a ten hour bus trip down to Melbourne did nothing to deflate the enthusiasm of the group of 12 who travelled for the Club’s annual event as four of the children proudly carried the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags onto the ground, prior to kick off.
The group also had the opportunity to play a small-sided game during half-time with the opportunity to lay foot on the hallowed AAMI Park turf.
After the final whistle the children also had the opportunity to have their Melbourne City caps signed by the playing group while James Brown took the group out for dinner in Lygon Street after the match.
Mildura United SC Vice-President, Mr Jon Thomas said the day was a fantastic opportunity for the kids to see their City heroes in action as well as getting to experience Melbourne.
“We chose the twelve kids based on their school attendance, performance and attitude, their behaviour at home and their behaviour and effort whilst representing Mildura United S.C.” Mr Thomas said.
“To do this, we run a program through Mallee District Aboriginal Services, where I’m also employed in the family services division as a community development worker. The program is called United, Strong and Proud, and it involves building and strengthening the relationships between Mildura United, local education departments and community services as well as forging solid bonds with the families of children in our program.
“The program is still in its infancy but already we have seen a tremendous improvement in communication pathways between Mildura United, its players and all relevant departments as well as a vast improvement in attitude and effort at school from a number of the kids involved.
“This trip is a reward for their efforts and we hope that it is an incentive for the rest of the children in our community to aim for.”
Mildura United also has a prestigious club award, The David Williams award, which is awarded each season to the player who plays with heart at training and in games, shows respect to their teammates, the opposition, coaches, and referees.
The award recognises the Club’s long relationship with Melbourne City and pays respect to former player David Williams.
“David has been a wonderful ambassador to the kids and we hope that every time he runs onto the ground in Europe he can feel all of us cheering him on from Mildura.” Mr Thomas said.
For more details on the Mallee District Aboriginal Services, visit www.mdas.org.au