Werribee’s Towards Zero Diversity Squad will begin its 2017 campaign on Monday when it hosts its first session of the year at Eagle Stadium.
Launched last year, the squad provides talented multicultural and indigenous youths in the Wyndham and Melton areas with an elite football pathway that caters for diverse needs and teaches additional life skills.
Over 10 weeks, squad members will develop their football skills and fitness, attend nutrition seminars, and receive sessions from the Reach Foundation and Headspace before taking on teams from five other Towards Zero Diversity Squads across Victoria in the AFL Victoria Six Nations Carnival.
Werribee community development manager Chris Gallagher will again double as coach of the team and believes the program benefits both the young people it provides an opportunity for and the clubs who benefit from the talent it unearths.
“It’s a great program that helps identify talented youth who have traditionally not been involved in Australian rules football,” said Gallagher.
“We saw last year that there are plenty of talented kids in Wyndham who have the ability and skill set to perform at a high level once given the opportunity.
“Hopefully we will see some of these kids transition into local and TAC Cup football teams.”
Also assisting the team will be North Melbourne AFL multicultural ambassador Majak Daw and Werribee’s VFL multicultural player ambassador Brad Xavier, while North Melbourne and Werribee diversity inclusion coordinator Samuel Malual will act as team manager.
In a reflection of its status as a leader in the area of community engagement, Werribee is the only VFL club represented across the Towards Zero Diversity Squads program, with the remaining squads affiliated with TAC Cup clubs Geelong Falcons, Western Jets, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays and Northern Knights.