The East Kimberley Football league has updated it’s code of conduct so it will now require players to meet standards regarding their employment and their children’s education.
As part of a sponsorship deal the East Kimberley Jobs Pathway organisation has asked that players registered with the clubs of the east Kimberley football league be “engaged in employment where possible”. Part of the deal will see 25 employment placements for the next two club seasons.
There are concerns from people in the football community that these guidelines could threaten the only structure some of the players in these communities have and policing of such stipulations may add extra stress to club resources which are already stretched thin.
League President Wayne Paul said some media reports had wrongly claimed it was a "no job and no play” rule.
“While the agreement is still a work in progress there is no big stick warning people that if you don’t have a job you can’t play," he told NITV News.
He said if they brought in that sort of a rule there would be no league.
“The employment situation in the East Kimberley would make it practically impossible to enforce that sort of rule on the football league.”
But what is evident is that football is easily the biggest tool to create social change in the East Kimberley he said.
Domestic violence is a major issue in local communities and some clubs have actually suspended players for committing acts of domestic violence.
Mr Paul said that some communities have seen a 20 per cent drop of instances of domestic violence because of these sort of actions taken by the clubs.
Employment and school attendance could be affected in the same way, those players without employment would be offered roles within the league searches ground maintenance, security and other roles at clubs and grounds.
The East Kimberley Job Pathways Will run the work for the dole scheme in these areas over the next five years.
With 12 clubs in the league almost every section of the East Kimberley is represented by these clubs which are integral parts of each community and bring a lot of meaning, structure and pride to the people that play for and support them.
But it’s for that reason that football is being used as the tool buy some of the key organisations in the area to bring about social change.
Mr Paul did emphasise the difficulty of using football in this way, but at this stage major organisations have thrown their support behind the league to use football as an incentive to fix the social issues within the community
The leagues 2017 season kicks off on the 21st of April in Kununurra .