Over 40 secondary students from migrant and refugee backgrounds were introduced to Softball in Term 1 this year through the Victorian Government funded Softball Australia initiative ‘Strike Out Barriers to Sport through Softball’ Project in conjunction with Softball Victoria.
The program was developed in partnership with Collingwood English Language School, with 8 softball sessions delivered at both their Broadmeadows and Craigieburn campuses delivered by coaches Justin Zelones from Keilor Park Softball Association as well as Chaminda Fernando and Caitlin Laird from Northern District Softball Association.
Collingwood English Language School is a major provider of the New Arrivals Program in the North Western Region for both primary and secondary students. The main aim of the school’s program is to provide a cooperative and supportive learning and working environment to enable students to develop the language and skills they require to move successfully into mainstream schooling. Another aim is to introduce students to Australian society and culture which is a perfect alignment to Softball’s Strike Out Barriers to Sport initiative.
Over the 8 weeks, students learnt basic softball skills such as catching, throwing, and striking as well as had the opportunity to develop English and interpersonal skills in a practical setting, broaden their community network as well as develop teamwork and leadership skills.
Britney Brownhill Leading Teacher at Collingwood English Language School, Broadmeadows campus stated: “The kids loved it! In the last week, myself and a couple of extra teachers and students joined the group to play a game and it was so much fun.”
“It was very clear that the students learnt some great skills and were able to work together as a team. Lots of smiles on their faces and a boost of confidence for students who normally don’t participate in sport.” Ms Brownhill said.
Softball Victoria and the local Softball Associations will continue to engage with the Collingwood English Language school and provide further opportunities for their students to connect with the sport of softball. A program is currently being discussed for term 3 for Primary School students at both the Craigieburn and Broadmeadows campuses.