Wanna kick, Mark?

Dean Baylis (centre) works on his hand-balling skills with Street Games volunteer Niamh Taggart and Ben Piggott from Notre Dame University’s health science’s unit. Photo by Steve Grant.

WA PREMIER Mark McGowan has been invited down to have a kick with some of Freo’s most vulnerable residents to see how a simple game of soccer is helping their lives and reducing pressure on the state’s health budget.

Last week participants from Reclink Australia’s Street Games initiative headed down to Princess May Park for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic brought things to a halt, and for Dean Baylis it meant feeling like he could get back on top of his mental health.

“My mental health went really downhill and I even went into respite,” Mr Baylis said of the break.

He’d tried to maintain his exercise regime, but without the laughter and camaraderie of his Street Game mates, it wasn’t the same.

“I used to do martial arts and body building, and I met this guy and we tried to work out together; and I tried to go down to the beach,” Mr Baylis said.

“It wasn’t fun, it was a chore.”

Reclink co-ordinator Simone Ireland said the organisation received no government funding, which hampered them from expanding into other areas in Perth. She’d love the premier to come down for a kick to see how effective the initiative.

The organisation did recently score a $12,000 federal grant through Fremantle Labor MP Josh Wilson’s office.

“The challenges faced by vulnerable members of our community have been sharpened by the Covid-19 pandemic, so it is fantastic to see people able to take part in Reclink’s Fremantle Street Games,” Mr Wilson said.

By STEVE GRANT

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