Main Image: Cambodian girls showing off their soccer ball made of plastic bags and twine (supplied).
A nationwide schools engagement program is again shooting for success, using the game of soccer to educate and encourage support for mission projects around the world.
Supported by 96five, Socktober aims to engage Catholic school students’ heads, hearts, and hands in key issues of mission and social justice through powerful metaphors found in sport, especially the world game of soccer.
The program, run by Catholic Mission, will kick off this week in Brisbane and run throughout World Mission Month in October.
A Socktober Ambassador is W-League soccer star Sarah Willacy, who is goalkeeper for the Western Sydney Wanderers.
“The soccer elements of the Socktober program offer a lot of fun for students, but it is the tangible lessons about the importance of serving those less fortunate that will stay with them through their life,” she said.
All hail Sarah @Willacy20 ?
Here’s your Westfield #WLeague Fan Save of the Season ??
Thanks to everyone who voted ? pic.twitter.com/zPCoX8RQzg
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) April 27, 2020
In the Socktober program, students are encouraged to “kick goals for kids in need” through the program, which features a six-module journey of learning and formation, packed with activities and resources, and a popular penalty shootout activity which can be held on a school’s mission day. As students kick their goals, they seek sponsorship from friends and family, with all funds raised supporting mission projects in Thailand.
Sue Williams, Catholic Mission’s Youth and Schools Engagement Officer for Queensland, says schools in her region are very keen to get involved.
“We had such a disrupted year in 2020, but the support from schools across Queensland and Australia was fantastic, nonetheless,” she said.
“This year with fewer restrictions on gatherings and more time in class, we know Socktober will be a great celebration of mission for students, as well as a valuable learning and formation experience.”
The Socktober program also has the backing of several bishops and archbishops from across Australia.
Adelaide Archbishop Patrick O’Regan has joined with Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn and Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale, all three throwing their support behind the program.
“Many kids around the world play soccer with a ball made of rags; it reminds us how blessed we are in a country like Australia,” said Bishop Kennedy.
“We all are called to be missionaries in the church, and to do something practical with mission. So, here’s your chance to get on board with Socktober, have some fun and be helping people at the same time.”
“I hope you give generously with the head, heart and hands reaching out to those in situations far more dire than here in Australia,” said Archbishop Prowse.
“Socktober’s got my support; I hope it’s got yours.’
Primary and secondary schools are invited to register for Socktober by heading to socktober.org.au where they can find all the resources and activities to fully engage with World Mission Month in 2021.