Reclink Soccer League Goes from Strength to Strength in Melbourne’s West

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2 weeks ago

Reclink Australia’s existing connections to diverse communities and community groups has led to the ongoing success of a Soccer League being run out of Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Originally designed in 2018 to bring together multicultural members of the western suburbs through partnerships with groups such as Wyndham City Council (Youth Services), Junubi Wyndham, YSAS, IPYC (International Peace Youth Group), and ARC (Acts of Random Kindness), the League has since enabled participants to enjoy free physical activity on a weekly basis through the structured competition.

Bill Mallinson, Reclink Australia’s Sport and Recreation Manager for Metro Melbourne, said the program had grown to incorporate over 300 residents from local government areas such as Brimbank, Wyndham, Melton and Hobson’s Bay.

“Reclink has previously identified members from these communities experiencing social isolation, lack of community engagement, and other forms of marginalisation – all resulting in poor mental health,” he said.

Operating out of the West Sunshine Community Centre, participant Kevin Nguyen, 26, said that he had been grateful for the League’s inception and for the “profound impact” it had had on his life.

“As one of five children from a low socioeconomic background and someone who struggles with ADHD, finding a sense of belonging and purpose has always been a challenge for me,” he said.

“However, since joining the Reclink Soccer League, my life has been transformed in ways I never thought possible.”

Nguyen said that the League’s safe and welcoming environment – harvested by Western Metro Sports Coordinators Eangano Singehebhuye and Fofo Nshimirimana – had allowed him to be “accepted, valued and understood” despite his life’s challenges.

“I’m so grateful to Eangano for always looking after me and being extra sensitive knowing my condition,” he said.

“Maybe if it wasn't for his kind heart, some people wouldn’t have allowed me to join in the League.

“I really get a lot of help from him.”

Bill Mallinson said Reclink’s ability to offer skilled and professional staff to deliver programs such as the Soccer League meant that participants were always comfortable with expressing themselves and getting the most out of their ability.

Participants were also able to enjoy the minimisation of common barriers to participation such as cost, travel, cultural safety and basic nutrition and hydration.

“We are also able to provide team kits for every participant to ensure that every participant feels valued, included and part of a team,” he said.

As well as the positive experience of being a part of teams and an overall sense of belonging, Kevin Nguyen said that he had also enjoyed a significant amount of individual benefits as a result of participating in the League as well.

“I have noticed significant improvements in myself both on and off the field,” he said.

“Physically, I am stronger, fitter, and more confident in my abilities.

“Mentally, I am more focused, disciplined, and resilient.

“Emotionally, I am happier, more balanced, and more connected to others.

“The Reclink Soccer League means everything to me,” he said.

“It's more than just a Soccer League—it's a community, a family, a support system.”

Anyone wishing to find out more information on the Soccer League, or to register their interest in joining, should make contact with Fofo Nshimirimana via email at [email protected].

Sam Wharton.

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