The Stephen Michael Foundation held its gala night earlier this month to raise money for the delivery of sporting programs in Western Australia.

With the motto ‘Reach high,’ the Foundation did just that with the event.

Held at the Crown Ballrooms on Saturday September 7, the gala dinner was only the second for the Foundation and was bigger and better than last year with over 290 people in attendance.

The enthusiastic CEO Paul Mugambwa explained the Annual Gala has been a great way to lift the profile of the Foundation.

“The gala night was developed to raise some funding but also to create awareness of the programs that we are running and to celebrate the partnerships we have established,” Mr Mugambwa said.

Mr Mugambwa had high hopes for the gala’s fundraising efforts and potential future opportunities.

“We are also hopeful that … we can generate some new partnerships with the new connections that we made on the night.”

CEO Paul Mugambwa and Program Manager Liam Anthony. Photo supplied.

Dr Richard Walley OAM delivered a respectful Welcome to Country to start the evening, followed by inspiring delivery of the work that the Foundation is achieving by Mr Mugambwa.

The Stephen Michael Foundation was formed in 2017 to deliver programs to areas found within the South Fremantle Football Clubs’ recruiting zone identified as having a high number of disengaged and at-risk youth.

The Foundation was named after the AFL great Indigenous player Stephen Michael who is also the Patron of the Foundation. Mr Michael and fellow AFL great Ron Boucher had the crowd in fits of laughter while recounting old football stories on the night.

Since its formation, the Foundation has provided a broad range of programs to over 3,000 youth across the state. The Foundation is now working on leadership programs and provides practical sporting skills.

“We are currently running a school-based leadership program which runs for 20 weeks and focuses on developing leadership, resilience, mental health and self-esteem,” Mr Mugambwa said.

“The program combines in-class and practical sessions based on football activities including coaching and umpiring. The students also create a sporting event and learn about the processes involved in planning and delivering a sporting event.”

Local radio presenter Steven Mills was the auctioneer for the night, and with a cracking sense of humour he was able to have the entire room involved in the auction to raise much needed funds for the Foundation.

Guests were encouraged to take part in the Big Day Out and Boomerang raffle, silent auction and live auction on the night. Some of the auction items included a cultural awareness session delivered by Richard and Robyn Walley, Linda Loo artwork and West Coast Eagles and Dockers signed jumpers.

Entertainment for the night was performed by David Pigram, Billie Court and DJ Corey, giving the audience a wide variety of music for the evening.

Event organiser and Business Development Manager Julie Jackson excelled in putting together a night filled with laughter and great spirit.

Ms Jackson told NIT that while the gala night is set to return in 2021, next year the Foundation will be running corporate events, as a way of delivering the Foundation’s Culture through Sport Program.

“These events will be utilised not only as great team building exercises for companies, but also getting staff active and participating in some traditional Aboriginal sports,” Ms Jackson said.

To find out more about the work the Foundation is doing and how you can help, visit the Stephen Michael Foundation Facebook page.

By Caris Duncan