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The Clontarf Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal men and by doing so, equip them to participate more meaningfully in society. Participants are offered an opportunity to succeed and hence to raise their self-esteem through participation in the popular sport of Australian rules football or Rugby League.
Using the passion that Aboriginal boys have for football allows Clontarf to attract the boys to school. But it is not a sporting program.
Each Clontarf Academy, formed in partnership with the local school, is focussed on encouraging behavioural change, developing positive attitudes, assisting students to complete school and secure employment. Fundamental to this, is the development of values, skills and abilities that will assist the boys to achieve better life outcomes.
Through a diverse mix of activities, the full-time, local Clontarf staff mentor and counsel students while the school caters for the educational needs of each student.
In order to remain in the Academy, members must consistently endeavour to:
- Attend school regularly
- Apply themselves to the study of appropriate courses
- Embrace the Academy's requirements for behaviour and self-discipline
Clontarf combines mentoring with a broad range of extra-curricular activities to expose participants to a wide range of life experiences which challenge and develop them. Participants are involved in leadership camps and personal development activities throughout the year. Highlight activities include interstate and regional tours, school camps, inter-Academy events and excursions. All activities are structured to ensure the development and enhancement of life skills.
Upon completing the programme graduates are helped to find employment. A specialist employment officer is employed to do this as well as to provide support until the graduate becomes comfortable with his new job and surroundings.
With support from the private sector, state/territory governments and the federal government, Academies now operate in 45 schools in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria.
How it started
The founder and Chief Executive Officer is Gerard Neesham, former coach of Fremantle Football Club, and foundation chairman is Ross Kelly, a chairman, director or board member of many prominent West Australian companies and the former chairman of the Fremantle Football Club. Staff include former teachers, youth workers and professional football players.
The original Clontarf Football Academy was established in 2000 at the Clontarf Aboriginal College site in Waterford, Western Australia. Since then Clontarf Football Academies have expanded to include the Northern Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.
Academies now operate in the following locations:
Western Australia -
- Clontarf (Perth)
- Gilmore, Kwinana
- Sevenoaks (Perth)
- Yule Brook (Perth)
- Great Southern, Albany
- South West, Bunbury
- Goldfields, Kalgoorlie
- Midwest, Geraldton
- West Kimberley, Broome
- East Kimberley, Kununurra
- South East, Esperance
- Halls Creek
- Fitzroy Crossing
Northern Territory -
- Alice Springs - Centralian
- Alice Springs - Mparntwe
- Alice Springs – Yirara
- Darwin – Dripstone
- Darwin - Nightcliff
- Darwin - Rosebery
- Darwin – Palmerston
- Darwin – Casuarina
- Darwin - Sanderson
New South Wales -
Some of the Clontarf students who have gone on to play football at a professional level include Mark Williams, Dion Woods, Andrew Krakouer, Michael Johnson, Lewis Jetta, Chris Yarran and Patrick Ryder.