THE PORT ADELAIDE Football Club has made the difficult decision to cancel the Santos Aboriginal Power Cup Carnival for 2020 which was scheduled to take place this week.

The event, which was to have seen more than 400 students from 75 schools playing off in a football carnival at Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide’s city centre on Thursday, will no longer take place due to the coronavirus cluster in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

The event had already been delayed from its usual date in Term 2 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Obviously we are really disappointed for the students who have worked so hard this year, especially given the extra challenges they have faced and we know how much they were looking forward to this week,” said Port Adelaide’s Aboriginal Programs Director Paul Vandenbergh.

“But the health and safety of our participants must be a priority and we believe this is the best course of action considering many of the students come from regional Aboriginal communities and the potential risk to their health and the health of their families is too high.”

Mr Vandenbergh said he and his team had been in constant communication with SA Health, the Department for Education and the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA) around the decision which had been supported around the current health advice.

“A lot of work has also gone in to prepare for the event by our team at the club and by SAASTA, who have always been there with us.

“We are very fortunate to have such loyal partners including SANTOS and the South Australian Government, who have supported us throughout 2020 and for many years.

“While it is unfortunate that we won’t have our annual carnival, our main focus has always been on the educational outcomes of our participants and knowing the student cohort we have seen this year, I have no doubt they will achieve great things.”

Introduced in 2008, the program is Port Adelaide’s flagship Aboriginal community program and continues to grow year on year.

The carnival is usually held in Term 2 and to be involved, students are required to follow a set of strict guidelines focused on a minimum of 80% school attendance and targets set towards both academic and behavioural aspects of the program.

In the first two years the Santos Aboriginal Power Cup met its objectives of improving the school attendance rates for Aboriginal students, using football as a vehicle to engage and motivate students at school.

The program’s KPI’s have continued to evolve from attendance at school to retention and completion, and most recently a focus on the transition of participants into higher education or meaningful employment.

The Santos Aboriginal Power Cup is run in partnership with the South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA).

Santos and the Government of South Australia are Major Partners of the program. Government agencies’ supporting the program include the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.