We take great pride in being ‘more than just a football club’ and your financial support is certainly helping to consolidate that principle, providing so many wonderful programs throughout the Shire that have a positive social impact and result in community wellbeing. Sharks Have Heart General Manager, George Nour, explains…
George is responsible for the delivery of all our community programs, which he says are so important, given that our local culture has always had a community focus. “Right now, we’re creating a future that places the Sharks right at the centre of a community that has such a rich history of helping each other out in times of need,” says George. “Given the Sharks play the only professional sporting code in the Shire, we’ve always been a focal point for locals… a Club that brings people together.
“That’s why we believe it’s our responsibility to give back to those who’ve supported us, many for the whole 50 years of our existence. This is a driving force behind our Club’s culture… as important in its way as on-field success. We’ve always been buoyed by our supporters. There was a time not that long ago when our players and Board members alike, joined with fans to collect donations in buckets that helped keep the Club afloat. As we see it, we are our past and we’re now creating our future.”
As we embark on a new era, we are committed to being a catalyst for positive social change. Beneath the ‘Sharks Have Heart’ banner, our Club runs programs to improve:
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Pathways for female players
- The inclusion of people of ALL abilities as part of our Club
- Schools Engagement
- Pathways for junior players
- Community Engagement
Sharks Make Bullying History
“Take our stance on anti-bullying for example,” says George. “We’re now in the second of a three-year plan to visit every one of the 85 schools in our community, with the aim of educating kids and helping to completely eradicate bullying in the Shire and beyond. By the end of this year, we will have visited 50 schools.
“We’re working with Brett Murray, Founder of the Make Bullying History Foundation, who has developed whole day programs that encourage and empower schoolkids, their teachers and parents. Bullying is one of the main problems that leads to mental health issues and in the worst-case scenario, suicide. In fact, statistics show that 80% of youth suicides have bullying as the number one contributor. And sadly, the Shire has one of the highest rates of suicide and self-harm in the South East Sydney Region.
“We’re working to change that and this program has undoubtedly already saved lives.”
Hand in hand with this wonderful program is the Sharks Resilience Initiative, which gives young people skills, strategies and resources they can draw on under difficult circumstances to help them positively resolve personal problems.
“This is a K-2 and pre-Kindy based program,” says George. “It fosters wellbeing and good mental health among children, helping them to develop a solution-orientated focus when faced with problems and choices. In 2018, we’re launching an extension of this by providing a free teaching resource to all 143 primary and pre-schools in the Shire (as well as a further 197 in the Riverina) – a storybook that helps kids from Kindy to Year 4 understand how to develop resilience. This will directly connect with 33,870 students and reach up to 135,480.
“It’s a great example of how our supporters are helping us to help the community. For example, initially we’ll be providing one of these books to each school… with additional support, we could distribute five or more to each school.
“The same with anti-bullying… instead of having one person dedicated to this program within our organisation, we’d love to add another. We’d like more Shark Buddies volunteers to bring people with disabilities to our games and eventually create a ‘Sharks Ability’ competition to develop both sporting and social skills and decrease isolation for young people with physical and mental disabilities.
“We’d like to have more staff involved with our many indigenous programs like ‘School to Work’, ‘Footy fever’, ‘Sharks Tomorrow Stars’, ‘Kickstart’ and ‘Repair to Ride’ – all of which are designed to make a positive impact on young indigenous people in the Sutherland shire.
“But all of this takes money. The Club is certainly doing its bit, as are the hundreds of people who have so far donated to Sharks Have Heart. We’re heading in the right direction.”
George Nour is amazingly passionate about his important role within the Sharks Family. We know he’ll continue to do his utmost to help our Club give back to the community within which we live and play. Keep up the amazing work George.