27 April 2016

Natasha Hill, a Sony Future Goals Young Leader, recently led a project aimed at empowering young women from mostly Muslim backgrounds through football. Her initiative involved teenagers from Bankstown Girls High School, who were trained to become football coaches at a grassroots level. These high school students then delivered football sessions to local primary school students from Bankstown Public School.

 

Australians have a strong sense of belonging and acting in their local communities and Natasha Hill provides a stellar example of this positive trait. A Young Leader from the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl, she started off as a tennis player but went on to replace her racquet for a football a little later on in life. 

 

In 2012 Natasha joined Football United: an organisation that uses football to support the integration of refugee children, young people and their families into urban communities throughout Australia. After starting out as a volunteer, she went on to become a coach and quickly came to realise that there were very few girls playing football. When she heard that Sony was offering Future Goals grants for community projects that use football as a tool for social change, she seized the opportunity. The project turned out to be a win for all involved.

 

The high school girls she selected to participate in her project generally displayed a lack of engagement in classroom activities. Her aim here was to foster a greater level of involvement and responsibility within these girls – teaching them lessons on the football pitch that they could also apply to their school lives. As part of the same process, the primary school girls they were coaching had an opportunity to get active on the football field and improve their physical wellbeing. The relationship between the two schools was also strengthened as a result.

 

The primary school kids looked up to the teenage girls as role models – particularly one boy from a non-football background. He developed a love for the game and found that his leader and role model was indeed a female. This serves as one of many examples of how a community project can take small steps towards big change.

 

As far as Natasha is concerned, she became a better person through giving and teaching. Empowered by this experience, she now feels more confident in managing projects and communicating with younger people.

 

But this was not Natasha’s first successful endeavor in trying to integrate Muslim and non-Muslim girls through football. She also works for the Australian National Sports Club as a coach. When she first joined, in 2014, the club had no female players. Through the determination of herself and another colleague, they now boast 89 young female participants as well as 7 female coaches.

 

When asked who instilled her with her socially-conscious and entrepreneurial attitude, she is quick to respond:

 

“My mum. She has always told me to respect and assist people, to always finish what I have started and give one hundred percent in everything I do.”

 

Natasha plans to continue with her efforts and, with the support of her community and family, there is no doubt she will succeed. 

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