Kicking goals together

Published: Thursday 28th July 2016

Message from Associate Vice-Chancellor Professor Jim Nyland: Pep Guardiola has recently become the new manager at Manchester City - sending shivers down the spines of fellow ‘BRentrance’ coaches given his outstanding record at the top Spanish club, Barcelona.  At Australian Catholic University's Brisbane Campus we have our own ‘Pep’ in the form of Matthew Pink, who works in the areas of exercise science and community engagement and is currently working with a group of Rohingya young people from refugee backgrounds using soccer and an education program that prepares them for the workforce.

Kicking Goals Together is a joint initiative between IACE, the School of Exercise Science, Health, Sport, and Wellbeing, and the My Youth Vision Project (MDA). Many Rohingya people have settled in Brisbane and for the past few months ACU staff and students have been working with a soccer team made up of young people from the local community. The Rohingya people are among the most persecuted people in the world and their own country does not recognise them as Burmese citizens. “Without many resources, the Young Stars started their own soccer team and came to ACU for support in both soccer and education,” said Matthew.

After a soccer game against ACU students, some of whom played for the ACU football club, the Rohingya youngsters took part in a pilot ‘Skill Up’ program, which was jointly run by ACU and Multicultural Development Association Ltd (MDA) as part of the Migrant Youth Vision Project (MYVP).

The MYVP is an initiative led by MDA and is aimed at young people from refugee or migrant background, aged 15 to 24 who have arrived in Australia less than five years ago. The program links young people to education, training, employment and sport. 'Skill-Up' helps young people identify their personal strengths and allows them to work on skills that will help them in the workplace. “The pilot has been very successful and with the help of Brisbane’s Health, Sport, and Wellbeing department we are looking to expand the program in semester two to a futsal competition with multiple teams from various ethnic backgrounds, in addition to some student and possibly staff teams from ACU," Matthew said. “We are also looking to make the employment education program bigger and better.”

Community Engagement Facilitator Janine Quine said the program was kick-started by close connections made during the IACE-operated homework club which a number of Rohingya young people attended. “We showed great interest in their lives and I believe that someone talking so positively about their culture and wanting to know more had a lot to do with the boys coming to us,” she said.

MDA Youth Engagement Officer Anna Tate said that our whole community prospers when young people are educated, employed and active. “This pilot is an excellent example of people coming together to make a difference in the future of not only young people but of our whole community,” she said.

Congratulations to Janine and Matthew for the excellent mission critical work they are doing with our partners in this space.  The Kicking Goals Together sport and education program version 2.0 kicks off with an opening round of futsal followed by an opening ceremony, food, and celebration on 17 August 2016 from 4pm (ceremony at 5pm). The event will be held at ACU's Brisbane Campus and all staff and students are welcome to join in the festivities. I may even dig out my old Manchester City kit!