Edith Cowan University
Place of Publication
Perth, Western Australia
Sport and Physical Education Research Centre / Kurongkurl Katitjin, the School of Indigenous Australian Studies
This case study focused on developments at Clontarf Aboriginal College and Football Academy, a Specialist Sports School in the Perth metropolitan area. The study specifically explored:
• the ways in which the development of an Australian Rules Football academy at the school have enhanced opportunities for Aboriginal students, many of whom may be deemed in educational terms 'at risk', to engage in school life;
• the organisational I institutional, social, cultural and economic factors (i) enabling and (ii) inhibiting enhancement of educational and sporting opportunities and take-up of these opportunities by the Aboriginal students;
• the extent to which progress achieved within the school context can be mirrored beyond the school, in terms of the lives and lifestyles of the students concerned.
The case study highlights the complex dynamics between social, cultural, economic and institutional issues in educational developments that seek to engage students in learning, in school life, in future careers, and in community life, via a central focus on sport. Data collected via institutional records, a questionnaire survey of academy staff, in-depth interviews with staff, and a questionnaire survey of students enrolled at the academy, is reported. The data provides important insights into the challenges and potential of sport-focused initiatives that are directed towards social and educational agendas, and specifically, the life experiences and 'life chances' of young people who are deemed to be 'at risk'. Developments are described that are fundamentally concerned to both extend and shape the life choices that students make on and beyond the sports field, school grounds and their school years. Data from staff and students points to the football program at Clontarf having a significant impact upon the social and physical development of students, and their current and prospective future lifestyles. Although focusing on a Specialist Sports School, the case study raises many issues relevant to non-specialist schools. The data presented supports the case for investment in clearly focused physical education and school sport programs, and accompanying longitudinal research capable of tracking addressing the long term impact of participation in initiatives such as the football program at Clontarf.