A “Spirit of Football Round” for thousands of junior footballers in south-east Victoria will aim to unite the football community, creating awareness of good role models, tolerance and sportsmanship among our State’s young athletes and their families.

Almost 5000 Australian Rules Footballers, aged between 9 and 16 will take part in the inaugural “Spirit of Football Round”, over the weekend of May 3 to May 5, across Victoria.

The “Spirit of Football Round” is an initiative of the South East Juniors, one of the largest junior leagues in South Eastern Melbourne with 24 clubs, more than 4700 players and over 3000 volunteers, in partnership with The Beehive Foundation, AFL Victoria, and SportingPulse.

Organisers say the special round will be an annual event and which could easily be adopted by sporting associations across the country. By targeting the “grassroots” junior football teams, it aims to create awareness among both players and their parents of the importance of being good role models, good sportsmanship and “helping your mates”.

The “Spirit of Football Round” will kick-off on with a special footy training clinic on Thursday 2nd May at the Narre Warren South Lions ground run by AFL Victoria involving U15 & U16 clubs, their coaches, and parents in a collaborative manner.

Then all South East Juniors Football League games played over the weekend of May 3rd – May 5th will feature:

·         All players wearing green armbands to represent a huge collective wave of solidarity across the league

·         The coaches will address parents and players prior to each game about the importance of good sportsmanship and being good role models

·         South East Juniors has commissioned a special match football for the U15 & U16 matches, featuring the Beehive Foundation Logo and one of the paintings entered in the Beehive Foundation Youth Art Expo last September by junior artist Krishan Fernando.

·         A player from each team will be selected by the opposition coach as the player that exemplifies good sportsmanship (not necessarily the player best on ground), and they will either receive a Beehive Foundation match ball or a specially made Beehive Foundation medallion.

SportingPulse will also heavily promote the Spirit of Football round across its network.

South East Juniors Football General Manager Shaun Connell said that the league was extremely excited by this initiative “We see ourselves being at the forefront of promoting positive environments for which everyone can be a part of.  AFL is such an embracing sport of cultures male and female and this is a great way to highlight what AFL has to offer.”

AFL Victoria Regional Development Manager, Michael Roberts works with junior coaches throughout the season and is excited to be part of this initiative.

 “We want to send a message to players, coaches and parents that although winning is important, there are just as important things in junior footy - respect for one another, helping our mates, and being good role models to our younger players.”

Director and Co-Founder of Beehive Foundation, Michael Spiteri is delighted with the support from the South East Juniors, AFL Victoria, and SportingPulse for this initiative.

 “We established the Beehive Foundation to make a positive difference to our youth and to help clubs create a fair, safe and inclusive environment – this initiative is the start of a major campaign of awareness which hopefully sporting organisations at all levels will get behind,” he said.