There is a reason that the Western Football Club is so highly regarded in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, and it goes beyond football.
Regarded as the Community Club of the AFL, the Bulldogs work as hard on the field as they do off the field with members of the community, from school age children to older people.
They are mentors and educators and welcome people from all backgrounds, cultures, abilities and ages, into their fold. The club teaches people about local culture and values, and help them to develop work and language skills, so people feel connected and at home in the West.
“What the Bulldogs do for people living in the western suburbs of Melbourne, is admirable. They really do stand alone when it comes to reaching out, partnering with local organisations and making a difference to people’s lives,” said annecto Chief Executive Officer, Estelle Fyffe.
“For over seven years we’ve partnered with the Club to provide accredited training for more than 50 people we support at annecto Yarraville’s Learning Hub. This program was also responsible for introducing the use of social media and iPads as teaching tools.”
“The clubs very popular and successful Sons of the West program has seen members of the local community, volunteer and buddy with several of the men we support, and assisted them to turn up every week and complete the program. We’ve seen the health and happiness of these men improve dramatically,” explained Ms Fyffe.
“There are also a number of people from annecto Yarraville who have joined the Western Bulldogs cheer squad and participate in the banner making projects during the season.”
The Club’s community department, called SpiritWest, works in partnership with government, corporate and community organisations to deliver services and programs that endeavour to improve social capital and improve the quality of life of people living in the local government areas of Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Wyndham and Melton.
Their community programs provide much needed mentoring, education, work experience and placement for thousands of students, migrants and refugees, and give people a meaningful connection to the community.
The Club has numerous community partnerships and together they deliver programs like:
• Sons of the West – helping men learn healthy eating and exercise habits.
• Fresh – helping young people who experienced difficulties in mainstream education to develop work and life skills.
• Schools program – helping school aged children to improve their motor skills and enjoyment of sports and AFL.
• Generation M – promoting social inclusion and harmony within Islamic communities in the West.
• Bulldogs Read – helping children in grades 3 – 6 improve their access to and ability to read in the Ballarat region.
• Work experience and placement – providing work opportunities to people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures to work in the community and improve their skills.
With the Bulldogs playing the best they’ve played for many years, and crashing through to win the semi-final against Greater Western Sydney on the 24 September, they now find themselves in the Grand Final since 1954 (61 years).
The entire community is behind them, with every second house in the Western suburbs decorated in Bulldogs colours, whether the household is traditionally a Bulldog supporter or not.
Over 10,000 fans and locals showed up to the open training session at Whitten Oval on Thursday 29 September.
There is even a Facebook page called Spot the Doggie dedicated to posting pictures of businesses and houses supporting the Bulldogs colours.
The Sun Theatre has announced they’ll be screening the game live in the Ballarat Street Park, outside the Sun Theatre in Yarraville.
Go the Doggies!