Collingwood Football Club will partner with the Victorian Reclink Australian Football League to form the club’s eighth team – the Collingwood Magpies Reclink side.

Formerly known as the Collingwood Knights, the program will facilitate 40 participants under the guidance of coaches Shane Williams and former Collingwood AFL player Daniel Wells.

The Collingwood Magpies Reclink side will operate out of Collingwood’s Magpie Community Centre at the club’s spiritual home of Victoria Park and participate in the Victorian Reclink Australian Football League.

The program creates opportunities for individuals faced with homelessness, mental health issues, unemployment and drug and alcohol dependence and offers participants social connection, improved health and wellbeing, and access to support services.

Established in 2008, the program has provided over 200 participants with an opportunity to improve their social, physical, and mental health.

As a cultural safe space, the Reclink community attracts participants from diverse backgrounds with a majority who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The team’s guernsey features an Indigenous design by Khali Luttrell. The artwork symbolises how football has grown for Indigenous players.

Collingwood’s Talent ID and Community Ambassador Daniel Wells commended the new partnership.

“It’s a great day for the Reclink program,” Wells said.

“To be situated under the Collingwood roof places the program in a position to access greater support.

“Collingwood’s commitment enables the program to grow, whilst continuing to invest in our current participants.

“To have the backing of Collingwood’s 80,000 supporters is remarkable.”

The program is made possible by the voluntary contributions and partnerships with Victoria Police, Headspace Collingwood, and Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS).

Headspace Collingwood and YSAS are two of six organisations that operate out of the Magpie Community Centre and provide the Reclink participants with support and access to services.

Collingwood’s Director of Stadia and Community David Emerson echoed Wells’ words.

“We are really excited to officially launch the team as part of Collingwood,” Emerson said.

“Our club was created to help people who are doing it tough. Our new Reclink program will bring young people together and provide support and care when they are facing challenges.

“As part of our club, the program now has thousands of Magpie members and fans behind them, and we have a fantastic new team we can all support.”

Today, Collingwood will officiate the new program at the Holden Centre.

The side will be presented with their jumpers before playing their first game under the Collingwood Magpies name. The side play the CoHealth Kangaroos at 2.15pm at Olympic Park Oval.

Today Collingwood house AFL, VFL, AFLW, VFLW, Super Netball, Australian Netball Championship, Wheelchair, and Reclink programs.

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