Footy aid to girls, umpires

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Stephen Michael, centre, with, from left, South Fremantle chief executive Tom Bottrell, former Labor MP Barry Urban, current Labor MPs Simone McGurk, and Tony Buti, and South Fremantle president Haydn Raitt.
Camera IconStephen Michael, centre, with, from left, South Fremantle chief executive Tom Bottrell, former Labor MP Barry Urban, current Labor MPs Simone McGurk, and Tony Buti, and South Fremantle president Haydn Raitt. Credit: The West Australian

Kids in Narrogin and Kojonup will soon have the opportunity to pursue umpiring and also take part in structured women’s football locally.

The Stephen Michael Foundation will bring a raft of programs to the region to engage with at-risk youth, aiming to keep them in school and find employment.

From Term 2 on the school calendar, the Stephen Michael Foundation will be working with schools and community groups in the region to offer new pathways to local kids.

“There’s no actual youth girls in the whole Upper Great Southern,” Stephen Michael Foundation’s Paul Mugambwa said.

“We looked at that and worked closely with the WA Football Commission and said, ‘Let’s pilot a youth girls program to encourage each of the towns to create a youth girls team that will train regularly’.”

First visiting schools in the region to spark interest, a pilot program will lead to a talent academy based in Narrogin, that will have close ties with both Fremantle and South Fremantle’s women’s teams.

“We see umpiring as a pathway to employment, where kids can earn anywhere from $50 to $200 a game,” Mr Mugambwa said.

“We’ve developed a program that includes full umpire accreditation, basically run it in school and after school, the idea being we’re creating the next wave of umpires coming through the system.

“The majority of umpires in the Upper Great Southern Football League travel down from Perth.”

Mr Mugambwa said that local kids could be umpiring the UGSFL as soon as this year on a case-by-case basis if umpires in training are ready.

The pilot programs in schools is also hoped to lead to an umpire academy in the region to run alongside the UGSFL Rams program.

“We’re going to be having a heap of carnivals where they’re going to get the opportunity to cut their teeth and see what it is like umpiring, but the ultimate goal is to link them into the UGSFL,” Mr Mugambwa said.

The State Government gave a $200,00 grant to the Stephen Michael Foundation through the Proceeds of Crime Grant.

Local governments and non-profit community groups can apply for up to $200,000 from funds seized under the State’s tough proceeds of crime laws to tackle drug-related issues, support victims of crime or help prevent crime.

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