The GOAL Mentoring Program has returned for 2022, with over 40 young people from the African-Australian community joining in a range of leadership, sport and development activities at VU Whitten Oval and Cobblebank Stadium in Melton across the first week of the July School Holidays.
Developed as part of the Club’s African Action plan, the program was first established in 2019 by the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation.
It sees young people from the Bulldogs’ heartland mentored by a range of AFL, AFLW and community mentors.
Participants and mentors alike form strong relationships and work through activities designed to build leadership skills, resilience, employability and culture and community connections.
Players from both the AFL and AFLW squads have volunteered their time to be involved in the program, providing participants with insights into what it takes to be a professional athlete.
It also allows players the chance to give back to their local community.
Western Bulldogs midfielder Tom Liberatore has been involved in the program since its inception, and has enjoyed connecting with participants.
“GOAL program is a great initiative by the club to encourage diversity and understanding of young people in the western suburbs. I love being able to assist in supporting and also learning with people from diverse backgrounds,” said Liberatore.
“Whether it be age, race, gender or religion it is great to be part of such a healthy and positive environment.”
AFLW Bulldogs defender Katie Lynch joined the program for the first time this year, and has enjoyed the experience of working with young people.
“I think what I’ve enjoyed about it is getting involved and observing really driven young people who want to get outside their comfort zone, try new skills and learn about concepts such as leadership and collaboration,” Lynch said.
“I really enjoy working with young people in any capacity, but I always find that being in a mentor or teacher position, as much as it’s your duty to teach and educate, it’s just as much a learning experience for myself too.
“I particularly saw a good opportunity with the GOAL program because working with African-Australian young people is something I haven’t done before. I was really keen to learn about the way they connect with their culture and all about their background and heritage, as well as giving back around my knowledge of leadership and working collaboratively.”
To learn more about the work of the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation, visit westernbulldogs.com.au/foundation or follow them on social media via @WBFCFoundation