Head of Community Projects, AUSTRALIA

Mr. Nick Hatzoglou has a Post Graduate Certificate in Event Management from Victoria University. He is the Head of Community Projects with Football Victoria and has overall responsibility for the Indigenous, Multicultural, LGBTI+, and Disability projects. He ensures football clubs are safe, welcoming, and better reflective of all Australians. He is Australian-born with Greek heritage and has a passion for cultural diversity and sport. Mr. Hatzoglou combines experience gained within the multicultural sector, local government, Australian Football League, and Cricket Australia with his appreciation of the positive role sport plays in a vibrant contemporary Australia. He acknowledges the role sport contributes to nurturing community interaction, social harmony, and believes football can facilitate an essential role in developing people’s understanding of each other at a local, national, and international level. Previously, Nick has played a significant role in developing the Sunshine Heights Cricket Club, the most culturally diverse cricket club in the world), the AFL Peace Team, which brings together Palestinians and Israeli’s into one team, Sunshine Heights Western Tigers Football Club, and created the AFL Multicultural Program from scratch.

Event Title: Advancing Youth through Social and Economic Empowerment  Date: September 25, 2019


The role of sports for the social and personal development of youth

The question posed for me to address was The role of sports for the social and personal development of youthI would like to approach this question by distilling the many learnings I have embraced in my personal and professional life. Having made all the mistakes, I find myself in a great position to pass on some advice and wisdom.

This will be summarised in 6 key areas

Promoting Wellbeing & Confidence

  • The importance of Mentoring
  • Sport can be a level playing field
  • Youth – leading projects
  • Promote a Growth Mindset
  • More Indigenous Engagement and respect
  1. Promoting Wellbeing & Confidence

Sport helps with self-confidence, especially early on in life. It’s always easy to integrate into new environments using sport as the common interest. Sport when successful, improves relationships and makes people happier This is especially relevant for our youth. Sport can create opportunities and get you to the other side of the world. Football is a great gateway to navigating other cultures and countries.

  1. The importance of Mentoring

Everyone should have a mentor/s. In a world where people hang out in virtual communities or are less engaged in a person to person sense, it is even more vital to have that important other you can share ideas with, ask questions and explore life skills.

My strong recommendation is for youth to have older mentors and older people to have youthful mentors. In this way everyone can learn from each other and foster creativity and build tool kits for life’s opportunities and challenges.

As Michael Mandalis said so powerfully upon receiving his recent Football Victoria Hall of Fame Award

“ I look around me and what do I see – Amazing people, amazing football players, I walked in here and I said yeah, It’s very important that we keep in touch, keeping in touch with the old and embrace the new and the new to embrace the old.

  1. Sport can be a level playing field

In a world that’s increasingly unfair – with more disparity in distribution of income, sport seems to be one of a few things that gives everyone a level(ish) playing field. It can lift the poor and humble the rich.

In Australia, we have made giant strides in sport that better engages with under-represented groups such as Females, LGBTI+, Indigenous and Multicultural cohorts. Our sport, football can play a massive role in bridging the gap and we are on a positive pathway with this led by young people.

  1. Youth – leading projects

We see Government inertia on many issues and a growing expectation from consumers to fill the void. Youth can make a stand as they are on climate change. Just last Friday in my hometown of Melbourne, young people were leading a march to bring more attention to climate change – Lets let our youth lead campaigns, invest in them and guide their journey.

  1. Promote a Growth Mindset

We must promote a Growth mindset to our youth, where they can embrace challenges, build resilience, have pathways to mastery, learn and apply criticism and find lessons from others that lead to their success

  1. More Indigenous Engagement and respect

In a world where your number of likes on a picture can determine your status – Instagram has removed the counter amid concerns it was creating pressure on users,

it’s time to connect with our Indigenous communities, these collectivists societies in my opinion hold the key to a more wholesome and resilient lifestyle. As my friend Craig Foster strongly advocates, Indigenous Australia will make a positive compelling impact on Australian Football if we can turn our collective attention to engaging them (both male and female) into our sport- allow them to take risks and boost our cultural intelligence and meaningful engagement of Indigenous People. Our youth can lead this engagement and break the cycle of despair and welfare

I want to finish by saying that getting young people active in sport is only the start. The real measure of our success lies in harnessing the power of sport and play to enhance wellbeing, to boost achievement and to help young people develop the life skills, and the toolkit which will help them to thrive, be happy and healthy.

At Football Victoria during this last year, we have built on the work of previous teams in developing and running successful programmes, continued to innovate new products and pioneered new ways of working to transform young people’s lives for the better.

Examples of how we have worked to enhance the social and personal development of youth are:

  • Created and promoted new core organisational values for our staff– Integrity, Inclusion, Respect, Unity and leadership.
  • Promoting Go Football– We still come across (too) many sports bodies, clubs and coaches at grassroots level who only see the world through the lens of ‘sport’, ‘winning’ and ‘performance’.  They think that the whole world should support and play the real, traditional versions of their sport that they have been practising and training for ages.
    New social forms of football where the emphasis is on fun – Walking Football, Social Sevens, Fun Football, Soccer Mums and All Abilities programs provide welcoming environments for that critical mass of less talented and able participants that just want to play and have fun.
  • Indigenous Football– Employed an Indigenous young man to lead our football forays into better engagement with Indigenous young people. Building capacity and creating employment outcomes
  • Empowering African Australian communities – engaged with young people to capacity build them so they can play a leading role within their communities to feel better prepared for life through football, including further accreditation as coaches and referees and employment

Over the past 12 months, research continued to paint a concerning picture of young people’s wellbeing. Young people were increasingly likely to be obese, to be struggling with their mental health or feeling isolated and lonely.

We found that too many young people are:

  • Inactive– 82.5% of young people are not meeting CMO guidelines of more than 60 minutes of activity every day
  • Stressed– 92% of 15 to 16-year-olds suffer from exam stress
  • Lonely– 45% of young people aged 10-15 years old reported they felt lonely either some of the time or often
  • Lacking confidence– one in five girls told us that they lack confidence
  • Overweight– one in three children are overweight or obese by the final year of primary school
  • Unhappy– 27% of children aged 10-15 rated their happiness as low or medium
  • Struggling with mental health– one in eight young people aged 5-19 has at least one mental health disorder
  • Lacking opportunity– 760,000 young people in the UK aged 24-years-old (10.9%) are not in education, employment or training.

Meanwhile, evidence shows these issues are magnified for girls, young people from BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities and young people facing disadvantage.

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