Cessnock City are doing their part in the community with the Hornets attempting to help out children in need.
The NEWFM Northern League One club entered into a partnership with Challenge Community Services two years ago. Challenge, the fourth largest provider of out-of-home care in NSW providing foster care services to more than 500 children, have 103 sites across NSW and Queensland and a workforce of more than 900 people, including more than 90 employees with a disability.
Challenge also has a number of sites across northern NSW, including East Maitland, where the relationship with Cessnock City started.
“Our Child Protection Officer also works at Challenge and that’s how we got involved,” Hornets Football Manager Jim York said.
“We put [Challenge Community Services] on the front of our shirts and we’ve had some of the kids down to the club.
“Last year our first grade team beat the competition leaders the day the kids were there. They went into the sheds and sung the team song with the boys. Afterwards the boys took the kids back out on the pitch with them with the lights on in the rain and played football with them.
“It’s a real community thing and the boys really engaged with it. One of the foster mums contacted us a couple of days later and said her little boy had slept in his Hornets shirt we gave him and wouldn’t take it off. He wanted to be a Hornet when he grew up.
“Not only could he be a player of the future but more importantly we touched his life for the better. Somebody cared. We had one little girl who was very shy and didn’t like men in particular. By the end of the day she took two of the players by the hand and went out onto the pitch and played football with them. Her foster parents had tears in their eyes.
“There’s a lot more to do in society and maybe you can’t change the world. But we’re trying to do our bit and if we can help make a difference in a few kids’ lives then it’s job done.”
Challenge Community Services Hunter Regional Manager Vanessa Ellis said Challenge were proud of the partnership with Cessnock City.
“Challenge Foster Care noticed opportunities to get our name out into the community more with hopes of being able to bring on board more carers for the agency and bring about more awareness of the Out of Home Care sector,” Ellis said.
“With Cessnock City looking for sponsorships, it was noticed that no other football club in the Hunter region are sponsored by an Out of Home Care agency so the opportunity was seen as valuable to take up to promote community connections.
“During the first season we had the opportunity to do a barbecue fundraiser with Cessnock City, whilst also setting up a booth for Challenge Foster Care to get our name out there. There have also been a couple of home games where kids were invited to come and watch the seniors play whilst sitting in our VIP box.
“The kids absolutely loved this day, being able to watch the big boys play and have a special moment with them.
“Foster carers are always needed. There are numerous children of all ages in our community that require support.”
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer or would like more information, click here.