Helping reach new goals

The University of New South Wales is using football to help refugee communities adjust to life in Australia.


High schools and a migrant resource centre have taken part in UNSW's Football United program, which is having enourmous success in Sydney's western suburbs by providing a productive pathway for young first-generation migrants.

VIDEO: Refugees football scheme

Participants and coaches are drawn from a number of refugee communities, allowing them to form a diverse group of friends.

“Coming here we meet different countries, like some from Kenya, some from Sudan, which is something good and then we go outside and hang around together,” says coach Ajak Deng.

The program is also catching the attention of corporate Australia at a time when professional sport is losing backers due to the global financial crisis.

Finance giant JP Morgan has agreed to support one of Football United's high school programs.

“Our employees at a time like this want to give back,” says CEO Jane Perry.

“We're in a priveleged country and we want to be able to make a difference.

“Some of them may play for Australia, for the Socceroos… and become stars of the future.”

Ex Matilda and head of law firm Gilbert and Tobin, Moya Dodd, has been engaging with the kids on a weekly basis.

She says the program's volounteers have witnessed the difficulties faced by refugees.

“There's dislocation of life for people arrived in Australia, if you've ever moved to a new country, you'd know how important it is to find people with common passions, and that the forum we see here,” she said.