8 December November 2008: A group of exercise science students from the Melbourne Campus (St Patrick's) volunteered as sport trainers at the recent Homeless World Cup at Birrarung Mar, hosted by the Big Issue Australia.
The football tournament, held from 1 to 7 December, attracts homeless and marginalised people from across the world by offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country.
ACU National exercise science student Shane Grinter, Australian World Homeless cup team coach George Halkias, ACU National exercise science student Darren Lusher, and Australian player Stephen Maloney (front)
First-year exercise science student Darren Lusher found his study at ACU National had provided him the necessary skills to assist the World Cup athletes with training drills, coaching and injury prevention education in the lead up to the tournament.
“It has been an amazing experience and I feel that I’ve been able to make a difference,” Darren said. “It was great to see people from all over the world who have benefitted from this program.”
“I have loved working with people I would usually not have an opportunity to engage with. This program has been really inspiring for the participants and allowed me to see them become more motivated at each training session and really enjoy themselves.”
Just as the event was a life-changing experience for the 500 players from across the world, Mr Lusher said he would jump at the chance to be involved in the cup again. "Watching the Australian team win their first game at Federation Square was amazing," he said.
Exercise science lecturer Kade Paterson organised for a number of students, including Darren, to volunteer their time at a weekly street soccer program leading up to the World Cup.
“Our students have been involved in educating participants in injury prevention and providing treatment during their training sessions,” Mr Paterson said. “They have also undertaken senior management roles including team liaison officers and international team coordinators. In their roles, all of the students have shown maturity and leadership beyond my expectation.”
Australian Catholic University (ACU National) established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.