‘Rise’ bringing the community together through football at Coffs Harbour Education Campus and Toormina

Rise Ambassadors bringing the community together through football.


RISE is a not-for-profit community association which brings people together and helps people from all backgrounds through playing football.

Ian Leach, Vice President of Rise explained to News Of The Area the purpose of the program and how it works.

“The players and coaches meet most mornings from 6:30am to 8am at the Coffs Harbour Education Campus (CHEC) and on a Monday evening at Key Employment to play the game that binds them together.

“We welcome all local community members or groups including the vulnerable, disadvantaged, Indigenous, newly arrived migrants, refugees and people with disability, regardless of gender, to our various football and wellbeing programs.

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“The Rise Community Football and Wellbeing Programme kicked-off in 2019 and is open to all socio-economic, cultural and ethnic groups and is free of charge to participants, regardless of their background.

“The primary aim of our program is not necessarily to produce great footballers, but to help develop well balanced, resilient, community-minded young people via a variety of well-being programs facilitated by Rise as an integral part of their participation with us, the common link is football, but the binding goal is community or as we sometimes say; football in our soul, community at our heart.

“We work closely with North Coast Football local clubs to place our members in local community football, as we do not run teams as such, except in pre and post-season tournaments.

“As of February 2021, we have over 100 members or as we like to call them our ambassadors, over half are recent refugee arrivals including many from the Yazidi community of Northern Iraq, kids from Sub-Saharan Africa and Myanmar, our age group ranges from 12 to 18 and in early February we kicked off a junior Rise program for the under 12’s.

“Rise recently entered teams in the postseason 2020 Gold Coast Invitational Tournament and were proud to be awarded the prize for best sportsmanship,” said Leach.

The Ambassadors at Rise also have the opportunity to give back to the community.

In return for participating in the Rise Community Football and Wellbeing Program at no expense, each participant commits to an annual minimum of 26 hours volunteer community service in Community Outreach programs, working on Rise initiatives and with organisations such as Wesley and Surf Lifesaving.

“Members families or carers also collectively commit to an annual minimum of 52 hours volunteer community service in our Community Outreach programmes,” said Leach.

“The success at CHEC has resulted in the expansion to Key Employment in West High Street where the under 12’s train on a Monday evening.

“The Graff Avenue Football Fun in the Park program has been a great success providing both footy coaching, fun games and weekly free home cooked meals to a large First Nation community in Toormina.

“We work closely with Aunt Kerry, a tireless and inspirational elder who has worked to improve the lives of the youth of Toormina for many years.

“All our initiatives are aimed at engaging the wider community to promote social inclusiveness together with enhancing their physical and mental well-being, especially to those within our community who for whatever reason find it difficult to participate in conventional, mainstream community or sports activities.

“In early February 2021 we started a Breakfast Club, with food provided by Woolworths for our members whose training hours are a remarkable 6:30am to 8am most mornings and we have just been awarded a NSW government transport grant to hire a bus for pick-ups and drop-offs at Jetty and Orara High Schools to and from the CHEC Campus.

“We are the proud recipients of a NSW Stronger Communities Funding Grant which has helped tremendously fund the development of Rise.

“Rise has partnered with CHEC for the use of their excellent facilities for which we thank them and Key Employment profusely for the use of their grounds and the Hub at West High Street.

“We are also currently pioneering new initiatives to assist all Rise participants with educational and employment pathways and experiences to enhance their future employment prospects.

“Rise has also recently signed off with Southern Cross University for a 3 year PHD Scholarship placement in our Rise Football Academy with a proposed start date of January 2022 to study our development, innovative practices and its potential as a model for other similar sports-based community initiatives.

“As you can see, the outreach into our community is significant and varied, the synergies created by capturing the energies and goodwill of our participants and their families provides the impetus to reach out to who knows
how many throughout our community in the years to come.

“On March 18 we will hold our 2021 season Kick-Off FundRaising event at Red-C events so please join us,” said Leach.

Three junior Rise ambassadors also spoke to News Of The Area about what the organisation means to them.

“Rise is like a family that provides us with opportunity”, “We make new friends at Rise” and “Rise asks us to be giving community members,” were their three responses.

Matt Snell, President of Rise added, “Our upcoming launch for Rise 2021 is a significant milestone for a wonderful locally based charitable organisation with community inclusiveness at its core.

“All of our selfless volunteers, participants and employees will celebrate our achievements to date and enjoy the opportunity to present the ground-breaking Rise projects to the community, many of which have made a real and
positive difference to local families and individuals,” said Snell

Phil McMullan, Technical Director echoed the Rise philosophy.

“Everyone wants to find their happy place, Rise provides that for all its participants.”




Demonstrating the Rise values on the pitch, receiving the best sportsmanship award at The Gold Coast Invitational Tournament in 2020.

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