Listen: AFL Queensland Diversity Coordinator Abdullah Haddad speaks about how his sport of AFL can help support newly settled families get connected in their community.
Next week, people across Australia will join together to celebrate Harmony Week; a time to reflect on the success of Australian multiculturalism.
The 2016 Census showed that almost half (49%) of all Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent who was born overseas. So it’s important that we all feel welcome, no matter what our cultural background is.
To celebrate Harmony Week, 96five is partnering with Multicultural Australia and their Connecting Through Sport program. This program helps refugees, new migrants and international students receive some initial training in a sport, before being able to join one of twenty seven sports clubs currently participating in the initiative.
Christine Castley is the CEO of Multicultural Australia and told 96five that Connecting Through Sports is really about building bridges in the community.
“New arrivals often don’t know how to navigate their way to joining a sports club. How the program works is that we provide a four week training program for a person in the sport they are interested in. We also work with local sporting clubs, who have said they would like to build their cultural capabilities, so they can provide the most welcoming environment possible for new families.”
One young athlete who has benefited from the support of Multicultural Australia is Zimra Hussein, who arrived in Australia as a refugee when her family fled Taliban persecution in Afghanistan. The fifteen year old has been touted as a future star of the AFLW, and told 96five that through sport she is seen as an equal.
“Everyone just gets around you, they accept you for who are are; it’s the best feeling. No one cares about the colour of your skin, everyone’s equal on the footy field.”
Currently the sports on offer in the Connecting Through Sport program are Football (Soccer), Australian Rules Football (AFL), Netball and Tennis.
Abdullah Haddad is the Diversity Coordinator with AFL Queensland and says that including new migrants and refugees through the vehicle of sport is one way to really help new Queenslanders feel at home.
“It’s a gateway to make new friends and become a part of the community through a footy club. Our role is focused on these kids and their families feel comfortable, but also to feel invested in the Australian culture and the wider community.”
You can listen to Abdullah speaking about how AFL can help foster support and connection in the audio player above.
To coincide with Harmony Week, we’re giving you the chance to help young athletes kick goals with 96five’s Sporting Goods Drive. You can help a family get their kids into sport and active in their community with a donation of new sports gear and equipment.
Multicultural Australia is specifically looking for donations of the following items to help those at a disadvantage feel welcome through sport.
- Football Boots (for both football/soccer and AFL, ages 5 to 17)
- Cross Trainers (for ages 5 to 17)
- Sports Bags
- Water Bottles
- AFL Balls
- Tennis Balls
- Protective equipment such as mouth guards and shin pads.
You can drop off your donations to the 96five studios, at 81 Mina Parade Alderley, on weekdays between 9am and 3pm.
If you don’t have time to get to the shops you can also make a donation to Multicultural Australia’s Sports Fund.