THE Port Adelaide Football Club’s industry-leading Santos Aboriginal Power Cup program is celebrating a major milestone in its 15th year, having engaged with more than 5000 students.

The program focusses on school completion and transition outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, as well as health and wellbeing and connection to culture.

The program commenced in 2008 in partnership with the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA) and continues to drive real social improvement for young Aboriginal people by lifting school attendance and graduation rates and providing a platform for success in their future education, employment and life endeavours.

Over its history, the program has been directly linked to helping achieve the Closing the Gap target of Year 12 attainment, with 96 per cent of participants completing their Year 12 studies in 2021.

Port Adelaide Chief Executive Officer Matthew Richardson said the club was proud to play its part in closing the gap.

“Our club’s relationship to First Nations people runs far deeper than their extraordinary contribution on the field, and our commitment extends to making a real difference to the educational outcomes of young Aboriginal people,” Mr Richardson said.

“We celebrate the Santos Aboriginal Power Cup reaching its 15th year and 5000 participants. In 2022 we have our largest cohort of participants and our largest number of female participants, which is fitting as our club prepares to enter the AFLW competition.

“The longevity and success of this program reinforces the power of sport to achieve social change, and we are proud to play our part in helping improve educational and future employment outcomes of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia.”

After participating in in-class workshops across the first and second terms, participants are required to form nine-a-side football teams and work together to complete a number of tasks that give them credits towards their South Australian Certificate of Education.

If they meet attendance and behavioural standards, and complete the required assessment tasks to a certain standard, students are invited to this week’s football carnival at Karen Rolton Oval, where schools compete for a spot in the final, played as a curtain raiser to Port Adelaide’s AFL clash with Essendon on Sunday.

Each school wears a guernsey designed by its students, and all participants are invited to Sunday’s AFL game to take part in a choreographed cultural performance before the first bounce.

Santos has supported the Aboriginal Power Cup since 2010 and its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said the organisation took enormous pride in the outcomes being achieved.

“At Santos, we are proud to be a part of this wonderful initiative that is changing young Indigenous people’s lives and driving real social improvements,” Mr Gallagher said.

“The Santos Aboriginal Power Cup is about providing more opportunities and more incentives to young people to complete school.”

The 2022 edition of the Santos Aboriginal Power Cup has more than 500 students from 65 schools involved, growing from 133 students in its inaugural year in 2008.

Port Adelaide’s Aboriginal Programs Manager Braedon Talbot said the program was creating the next generation of leaders in Indigenous communities.

“Our program is seeing more young Aboriginal people engaged in schooling, more finishing their schooling and more going on to further education and employment,” he said.

“We are really fortunate to have the support of some wonderful partners, in particular Santos and the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy.

“We also recognise there have been many challenges during the pandemic and acknowledge the incredible work of SAASTA and the teachers across the state, who have gone above and beyond to keep students connected and learning during these difficult times.”

The 2022 Santos Aboriginal Power Cup Carnival will be held on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 May at Karen Rolton Oval in the Adelaide CBD.

The finals will be played as a curtain raiser to Port Adelaide’s Round 11 match against Essendon at Adelaide Oval on Sunday 29 May.

The Port Adelaide Football Club thanks its program partners Santos, the Government of South Australia -Attorney-General’s Department, SAASTA, the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, Blooms the Chemist, Flinders University, Ventia and Spotless.