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The Adelaide United Football School kicks off

Selfie with Bruce and chinwag after first training session 102

For the past three weeks, our family had listened to the constant mumble of “when is soccer going back?”

With the last season having only recently ended, I just knew it was going to be a long Summer with no soccer in our lives.

Not a moment too soon, it arrived in the letter box.

The brochure in itself was enough to lift the mood and bring some soccer cheer back into the house.

With a program based on proven Barcelona Football Club methodology, the Adelaide United Football Club promised to be a great opportunity.

An opportunity not to be missed.

Jalen, an Under 12 keen midfielder could not wait to start the 20 weeks of intensive training, guided by the best footballers in Adelaide.

‘I can’t wait, this is going to be awesome,’ he said.

He did not need to wait long.

Before we knew it, the day of the first training session had arrived.

We were not sure what to expect, but knew it was a youth soccer player’s dream program.

We pulled up at the pitch to see young football hopefuls out in full force for the start of the Adelaide United Football School.

After being split into small groups to allow for high intensity and quality coaching, they were under way.

Jalen teamed up with key striker, Bruce Djite and he could not be happier.

How awesome for the kids, shaking hands and being shown the ropes by local legends.

Within the first half hour, Bruce and the kids were on first name basis.

Just Bruce calling these kids by name, you could see the joy in their eyes.

United’s head coach, Josep Gombau lead by wonderful example, rolling up his sleeves and getting in there with the kids.

Most of the A-league team were out on the pitches lending a hand during the session, offering advice and encouragement to all.

It was a great show of team spirit and you could tell the excitement between the players and trainers was mutual.

After 90 minutes of drills, tricks and a scratch match, it was almost time to say good bye.

Once the group had huddled around, one keen player asked for a juggling demo.

Bruce was all too happy to show the kids a few tricks.

After handshakes and goodbyes to all, it was time to ask for the ultimate “selfie”.

And that was me not the kids!

After my brush with fame, I snapped a great picture of Jalen with Bruce.

‘You’ve got a great kid there,’ said Mr Djite.

During the ride home, Jalen posted the picture straight to Instagram.

He watched intently as more and more ‘likes’ came through.

Proud as punch, and exhausted with the night’s efforts, it was bedtime.

Jalen came running through in the morning to announce Bruce had ‘liked’ his photo.

The smile on his face was priceless and certainly worth the price tag of the football school.

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Volunteers giving back to the community

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

“Here’s to all volunteers, those dedicated people who believe in all work and no pay.”  ~Robert Orben.

Many organisations could not survive without the generosity and support from people within the community. That support often comes in way of monetary donations, which is welcomed with open arms, but the donation of time and effort does not go un-noticed.

The motivation behind volunteers offering their time is varied. There is a strong sense from the volunteers at Guide Dogs that they want to give back to the community and to an organisation close to their heart.

Ms Taren Cox found challenges in finding paid or un-paid work as a person with visual impairment.

After becoming a client of Guide Dogs SA/NT, it was a suggestion from her case manager that she give volunteering a try.

“It is a great opportunity to get out of the house, do new things and meet new people,” Ms Cox said.

Ms Hughes, Community Engagement Coordinator at Guide Dogs SA/NT has seen many changes in the volunteering space over the years.

For some people, volunteering is a great way of getting their foot in the door, to an organisation they want to learn more about and eventually secure a paid position in.

For many others though, volunteering is just about getting out, putting their skills to use and working with people in a friendly environment.

Ms Bev Drechsler has spent 2 years working as a volunteer within the Business Development Unit and donates plenty of time making unique cuddly polar fleece blankets for each of the pups graduating from the Puppy Development Centre.

Her passion is sewing and sees the colourful blankets as her way of donating directly to the Guide Dogs.

Ms Hughes believes the help offered by our volunteer team is “absolutely instrumental” to the overall success of the organisation.

The process begins with a volunteer information session, where interested people learn about the various volunteering options available and what is expected of them.

“Volunteers who are keen to continue after knowing all the facts, continue with the induction process, meeting people throughout the organisation and completing the same police checks that paid employees need to undertake,” said Ms Hughes.

“We take our time matching our volunteers with tasks suitable for their skills and lifestyle,” she said.

A well-seasoned volunteer, Ms Lyn Jacobs, currently volunteers at three different organisations.

“I feel a great sense of respect from others in the workforce and the community when I speak of my duties as a volunteer,” Ms Jacobs said.

“Us ‘vollies’, get to enjoy a cuppa with friends whilst making a difference. I really feel like I am making good use of my time here,” she said.

Mr Dahmen, a long term volunteer at Guide Dogs, started his adventure as a Guide Dog volunteer, when he took on a “handy man” position.

After being made redundant, it was his financial advisor who suggested he look into volunteering as a way to build new networks and satisfy the work requirements of Centrelink.

“I’ve been volunteering here for just over 2 years now. I enjoy the variety of work and can’t see myself ever giving it up.” Mr Dahmen said.

Discover Life With a Vision Impairment

Children on excursion at the Discovery Centre

The Adelaide based Discovery Centre offers an interactive educational program for Primary school aged children.

The focus of the centre is to increase awareness in the community on what it is like to live with a vision or hearing impairment.

The centre is very hands-on, allowing children to use their individual senses to learn in a fun environment.

Ms Megan Hammond, the event coordinator at the Discovery Centre has seen a real growth in the number of schools participating at the centre.

“We have a steady stream of school children coming in over the year, with some schools coming back year after year,” Ms Hammond said.

“I feel very proud to be able to run this program. The positive feedback we get from the kids and teachers, allows me to know we are on the right track”, she said.

Tahlia Clark and her classmates from Marryatville Primary School visited the centre during the school holidays.

“It was fun putting on the blurry glasses and trying to move around without banging into things”, said Miss Clark.

“I feel so lucky that I can see”, she said.

This is the exact learning Tahlia’s teacher Ms Mattinson was hoping for.

“It was such a fantastic excursion, the kids had a ball and learnt too that having a vision or hearing loss doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines”, Ms Mattinson said.

The Dance Pad Mentorship program

Dance Pad students after working up a sweat

Dance Pad students after working up a sweat

The Dance Pad is offering one lucky dancer the chance to be mentored for a whole year. Learning Latin dance styles including Salsa, Reggaton and Rueda to name a few, can help you develop into an all-round dance star. It is the first mentorship program coming out of The Dance Pad, with auditions being held in December 2014. The Program is under the direction of two of the most experienced Latin dancers in Adelaide. Piter Pantoja Lopez, a professional dancer Born and raised in Havana has abundant energy and charisma that is infectious. “I just love to dance and love to see the joy in peoples’ faces when they are dancing”, Mr Lopez said. Emma Dawson, Director of the St Peters based dance school and professional dancer who has trained and worked with diverse dance styles in many companies has a wealth of performance experience to offer. “This is an awesome opportunity to be able to give back to the dance community”, said Ms Dawson. “We are offering one dance student, a year of classes and intense training in all our styles, performance and choreography”, she said. Past dance student, Ms Stephanie Simeone trained with Emma and Piter casually for two years before successfully earning a spot in a full time dance position at a Melbourne University. “Emma and Piter have basically taught me everything I know”, said Ms Simeone. “They are passionate about dance and have so much knowledge and love to give”, she said. For any aspiring dancers, this is an opportunity not to be missed.