U-NITE for Australia Day

Melbourne Victory are gearing up for Australia Day celebrations as they take on Sydney FC in the fourth annual U-NITE Fixture.

Melbourne Victory are gearing up for Australia Day celebrations as they take on Sydney FC in the fourth annual U-NITE Fixture.

This event celebrates how Melbourne Victory and football embrace multiculturalism, cultural diversity and unifies people of all ages and backgrounds.

In the lead up to the fourth version of U-NITE, on Australia Day, the club has been involved in a number of community events that celebrate the language of football.

Melbourne Victory kick-started their engagement by supporting the Australian Football Somali Championship at JJ Holland Park, Kensington. The teams comprise players from the refugee Horn of African Australian communities including Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya. The Melbourne Victory boys were there in force to support the event, with Adama Traore, Jonathan Bru, Theo Markelis and Nathan Coe all involved in the championships.

Melbourne Victory continued its support by inviting the under 17 winners, Kensington, and the Men-s winners, Sporting Carlton, to be recognised and celebrated on AAMI Park at half time in front of more than 18,000 fans in Victory's clash against Wellington Phoenix in Week 15 of the Hyundai A-League. Melbourne Victory Chairman, Anthony Di Pietro,personally congratulated all the players and Chairman of The Australian Somali Football Association, Ahmed Dini.

“U-NITE is a very special event within the Australian African Community and it-s a moment when a very lucky group of players represent the entire Australian African community on Australia Day," Mr Dini said.

"Football has been the driving force for change within disadvantaged communities in Melbourne. U-NITE is the culminating event that brings all the good work that is being done through football to positively engage African youth into society.”

Melbourne Victory Managing Director Richard Wilson added: "The U-NITE event is a football blockbuster, with the two of the biggest teams in the competition facing off at a world-class venue," Mr Wilson said.

"But it has become more than this in the past four years. It has enabled our club to celebrate multiculturalism and the diverse communities of Melbourne and show how we-ve been able to unite everyone under the banner of Melbourne Victory and football. This year we have engaged in a number of community events to celebrate the U-NITE event and the response from these activities has been fantastic."

The excitement and community engagement won't stop there, as the best of the best from the Australian Somali Football championship will form the UNITE team who will battle it out against the best multicultural talent from the VCL, on AAMI Park prior to the blockbuster against Sydney FC.

Melbourne Victory partnered with Football Federation Victoria (FFV) to co-ordinate the UNITE FC team and VCL All Stars involvement, which included an invitation to take part in a training session at AAMI Park with Melbourne Victory Youth Coach, Darren Davies, in preparation for their moment in the spotlight on Australia Day.

Both teams will also receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities at AAMI Park, the chance to watch the Melbourne Victory team train, while also getting some tips from the players, as well as the chance to meet the Melbourne Victory coaching staff.

The U-NITE program will continue all year round, as Melbourne Victory will be working with the young footballers from Horn of Africa squad to deliver football clinics to disadvantaged schools in Victoria. These aspiring young footballers with have the opportunity to be educated in coaching, become role models and Melbourne Victory ambassadors in their local communities.

Australia Day will also be a special day for 70 new Australians, who will take part in a citizenship ceremony on AAMI Park. The new citizens will be invited onto the pitch just before kick-off to make their pledge in front of a capacity stadium. Talented Australian singer, Silvie Paladino will also sing the national anthem prior to kick-off.

Fans and members can expect to see performers from all over the world celebrating their local music and dance on the concourse before the game. This event is a true celebration of cultural diversity and football, one that we believe will continue to excite the nation and become a must-see fixture in the Australian calendar.

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