Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Lives Rebuilt through Sport; Learning the Value of Being Part of a Team

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Lives Rebuilt through Sport; Learning the Value of Being Part of a Team

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Marshall amy.marshall@capnews.com.au

SARAH Tiers looked at her son Zachary Philp a year ago, and saw his future behind bars.

C[pounds sterling]He was 13. And Zachary in my eyes was going off track... I was worried he'd end up in jail,C[yen] she said.

But in a story to rival any Hollywood script, that concern is now a distant memory.

His path now is one of leadership and community contribution beyond his years.

In Central Queensland, it's no secret Rockhampton has a high rate of juvenile crime.

In late November, it was reported more than 10% of those facing the city's court were children. It compared to 4.35% in Brisbane and 5-6% in other regional centres such as Bundaberg, Townsville and Mackay.

Many community leaders and politicians, such as the LNP's Member for Keppel, Bruce Young, cried out for the government to C[pounds sterling]toughen upC[yen] on youth, with mandatory sentencing.

But an initiative from Rockhampton's Darumbal Community Youth Service has proven the solution for our city's most vulnerable children may be as simple as believing in them.

Youth support worker Ben Atkins said the service decided to run a touch football program at the start of the year, initially involving 14 C[pounds sterling]disengagedC[yen] young people.

Many were volatile substance abusers, others were referred to the service through youth justice and child safety departments, schools and other non-government organisations.

None had played competitive football, either because their parents couldn't afford it or because of self-doubt.

C[pounds sterling]There's a bit of Cyshame', where they think they don't want to go down putting themselves on display,C[yen] Ben said.

When they turned up to their first season they would hide in the shelter sheds at the back of the oval.

This week, they ran proudly through their team banners, their elders cheering them on. …

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