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Soccer championship helps disadvantaged Australians.



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THE HON KATE ELLIS MP

Minister for Sport

MEDIA RELEASE

20 July 2008

Soccer championship helps disadvantaged Australians

The Minister for Sport, Kate Ellis, today launched the Community Street Soccer National Championships which is helping homeless and unemployed people transform their lives through the health and social benefits of sport.

“The Community Street Soccer program provides vulnerable people with an opportunity to regain their self-esteem and independence and to deal with the issues of homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness,” Ms Ellis said.

“Soccer has an amazing ability to bring people together and to break down social and cultural barriers.

“Sport also helps with the development of good physical and mental health, promotes team work and helps to build self-confidence in individuals, which is why the Government actively supports initiatives like Community Street Soccer.”

The Rudd Government is providing $3 million until 2009-10 to The Big Issue for the development of its Community Street Soccer program. The Victorian Government has also provided $500,000 to this worthwhile initiative.

The funding will be used to establish and operate the program in 30 communities across Australia, and will benefit approximately 3000 participants.

The Street Soccer program involves four stages; starting at the community level and progressing through to state and national finals.

Players at today’s National Championships will be vying for a spot in Australia’s Street Socceroos team which will compete at the Homeless World Cup in Melbourne on 1-7 December 2008, bringing together teams from more than 50 countries.

“I’d like to congratulate The Big Issue in Australia for establishing the Street Soccer program, and wish competitors all the best for the National Championships,” Ms Ellis said.

The Big Issue in Australia is a not-for-profit company which assists people who find it hard to access employment for a variety of reasons, including psychiatric illness, alcohol and drug addiction, and intellectual and physical disabilities, as well as homelessness.

NOTE: The launch of the Community Street Soccer championships will take place at 1pm today (Sunday 20 July) at Waterfront City Piazza, Docklands Drive, Docklands.

Media contact: Greg Doolan - 0433 345 323