SYC Youth Worker forms football team to engage young people and together they come out on top
15 Jun 2018
Con Finos’ role as Hindmarsh Youth Worker during the early 1980’s was a challenge, but one that he rose to. He was working with disengaged young people who were getting into trouble with the law and disturbing local businesses. The challenge as he saw it was to rebuild these broken relationships and support the young people to become valued members of society and he decided that creating a football team for the young people would be a great way to start this process.
Con commenced his position in 1979, roughly two years after the program in Hindmarsh commenced. He settled in straight away and quickly grew a rapport with the young community. He saw a lack of youth focussed activities in the area and believed this was a key factor contributing to crime and young people’s boredom. Con wanted to create a football team to not only engage the young men, but bring the community together as a whole and although many of them didn’t know anything about Aussie Rules, they thought it was a great idea.
It was challenging to start the club as they had to find an appropriate home ground, club officials, uniforms and other logistics, but the boys were determined and with Con’s direction they succeeded in establishing the Croydon Bombers. They spent a lot of time training, learning the rules and building the structure of the club, all of which the boys were heavily involved in. Come their first game, the boys were all nervous, but they came out victorious and soon made their mark as fierce competition for their rivals. That season they went on to win every game and were premiers.
Con coached the team and they all knew what was expected of them and they embraced the challenge. The football club grew more popular within the community and soon attracted a devoted following. The team welcomed more players and they would often have up to 40 boys attending training sessions, along with supporters. The boys were not spending as much time at the pinball parlour and their reputation with the local community was improving.
A lot of the young community looked to Con as a mentor and he would advocate for them when required. He formed close links with the police, pro-bono lawyers, SACOSS (South Australian Council of Social Services), local council, local businesses and more. He found these relationships to be key in creating open communication channels and breaking down the barriers between the groups.
“My personal values are ultimately what guided the way I did my job,” Con said.
“I gave the young men the respect they deserved and advocated for them when required. The football club was a great opportunity to challenge and engage them and allowed them to represent their community in a positive way. Sport has an uncanny ability to unite people.
“During my time with SYC I learnt a lot about the world and the importance of building relationships. Young people need to be engaged and challenged and the football club facilitated this for them at the time. The role influenced my subsequent career in nursing, then as a patient advisor and my general outlook on life,” Con Said.
There are still reunions held today for the Croydon Bombers and Con, the team and the football club’s community enjoy getting together and reminiscing about the team and share stories of this time in their lives.