A sporting chance for refugees

After some of the public attacks on refugees from Africa which occurred in the lead up to last years election for allegedly ‘not integrating’, with the worst inferences being targeted at young males, it was good to see a story in today’s Australian newspaper highlighting the positive expectations for African refugees in the future of Australian soccer.

Four African refugees – from Sudan, Congo, Ethiopia and Liberia – are part of the Joeys, which is Australia’s under-17 side. The story also featured another black African player who migrated here from Zimbabwe, plus another from PNG. Football Federation Australia is trying to win the rights to stage the 2018 World Cup, and the chair of FFA is highlighting that players like these will be the future faces in our Socceroos team, alongside those from European countries that have traditionally made up the bulk of the team.

By coincidence, the same day this story appeared I attended a social soccer match in suburban Brisbane between teams made up of people from Liberia and Botswana – some migrants, some refugees, some students, some of them Australian citizens and most of the rest to become so in the future. These young Australians do a lot more than play soccer of course, but that is just one area where their skills and energies will be able to help improve our nation’s future.

RELATED: Click on this story to read of another African refugee who is representing Australia at this year’s paralympics.

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4 Comments

  1. Adelaide and Brisbane have done well with sport and refugees. IN Adelaide we have managed to hold two day soccer festivals for refugees from all over the world.

    It was started by the police union would you believe.

    And your own Tiger 11 became quite famous.

  2. Mate, this is Australia. If they were good at sport, we’d take bug-eyed tentacled aliens from Arcturus. For example, George Speight, attempted coup plotter and kidnapper in Fiji, he had Australian citizenship, but the news never once said, “the Australian attempting a coup d’etat in Fiji…” whereas if he were shooting clay pigeons or something, well…

    We need something more than kicking a ball around or running down a track to show genuine integration.

  3. I think sometimes there are new sports needed.One involving baked bean tins,with genuine poor Australian fingerprints on them tossed into a tin compost recycler.On the other hand,if one has one,I doubt very much that sport in any form,really improves the lot of other Australians,unless the lot of other Australians,are allowed to assess Lowy’s money accounts,where then paying HECS fees could thus be reduced.These sports player will do good for themselves,and that is a good thing.Secondly they do some good for the status of some sports in Australia and elsewhere by their achievements.As an Australian born person,I can rightfully claim,that neither Lowy or the sports he supports,have much to do with me,and I honestly cannot accept any international competition does anything for me or this nation.Having contributed an idea or two that had ramifications within the Olympics,by solving a particular housing problem,I personally find contributing to these events,in any way, a form of self-punishment.I wish all athletes well,and they do not need to integrate,just be themselves,be great at the sport they play,and to be an Australian really means.. being unforgiving of the hype.How else can even Lowy himself exist,with an occasional critic that maybe,Muslim,but,have their own agenda as Australians!? Free country! Some things are worth hanging onto,for the sake of the nation,and ,that is, not attempting to be in anyone’s mold unless you want to be their,and with a sort of wink..that says…whatever needs to be said less seriously!?

  4. Soccer, being the wold game, offers a ready made activity for refugees to get involved in.

    Unlike the 50’s and 60’s, where post-war migrants were seen disparagingly is they played ‘wogball’ and needed to play aussie rules or rugby league if they wanted to really integrate, this is not the case today.

    With soccer being played amongst more widely now and being recognised as mainstream sport, rather than some European import, I hope that the latest wave of people coming to settle in Australia will continue the tradition of enriching the sport in this country and using it as a way to make connections with other Australians.

    I have already seen African people coming to see Melbourne Victory matches, hopefully we will see African Australians playing in the A-League soon.

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