Junior touch football is returning to the Moree Plains through an initiative of the Moree Local Drug Action Team (LDAT). The program is using community sport as a protective factor against harms from alcohol and other drugs and takes the opportunity of touch football to get young people aged 7 to 17 years old involved in healthy living workshops.
The Moree LDAT was formed in 2018 after the council received $10,000 from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) to develop a Community Action Plan for the local area. The Moree LDAT includes representatives from Moree Plains Shire Council, Moree Police Citizens Youth Club, Miyay Birray Youth Service, Moree Community Drug Action Team (CDAT), Healthwise, Moree Family Support, Hunter New England Health, St Vincent de Paul and NSW Police.
The Moree LDAT has since been successful in receiving an additional $17,000 from the ADF to launch the junior touch football competition, a key priority in its LDAT Action Plan. This funding has assisted with the committee formation, but into the future the committee will continue independently as the Moree Junior Touch Football Association. Its aim is to reestablish the game in Moree and make it accessible for all community members.
“We are excited to be getting junior touch football up and running again in the region and are thrilled to be able to offer the program free of charge to the community,” Moree Plains Shire Council’s community development officer Ros Laws said.
“Getting children involved in sport from an early age is critical in fostering an active lifestyle, and by offering this program free of charge, all children in our community can access it.”
Young people are supported to participate with assistance in the payment of association fees, uniforms and equipment.
The junior touch football program provides an opportunity for children to try their hand at touch football under the guidance of the NSW Touch Association and Good Sports coaches. The first of the clinics, a free skills day, was held on January 23rd 2019 and the weekly competition kicked off in March 2019.
“Participants in the junior touch football competition will not only benefit from quality coaching and skills development but will also be provided with education on leading a healthy lifestyle,” Mrs Laws said.
“Kids will go in first and do a living school program, doing everything from drug and alcohol education to brushing their teeth or personal hygiene and then they’ll play.”
The program provides a fantastic opportunity to put protective factors in place against harms from alcohol and other drugs through education for young people.
Senior Community Development Officer of the ADF, Denni Scott Davis, said the Moree LDAT decided to focus on a touch football competition as part of the Community Action Plan.
“Junior touch footy was the idea they suggested, the consensus,” she said. “It’s great because it cuts culturally across and it’s gender equal. Anyone can play. Everyone is welcome.”
The young people’s touch football competition has brought together young people, parents, families and the broader community where there has been intergenerational challenges and trauma, as well as providing the opportunity for education.
Free accredited training for coaches and referees will be provided by NSW Junior Touch Association, to further upskill parents and community volunteers.
Take a look at the Strong and Connected Communities Toolkit for guidance on creating community activities that foster inclusion and connection in your local area.