Kicking goals together

Published: Thursday 23rd June 2016

ACU is working with a group of Rohingya young people from refugee backgrounds through soccer and an education program that prepares them for the work force.

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.

Exercise Science Lecturer Matthew Pink said 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, who is also involved with ACU’s Institute of Advancing Community Engagement (IACE).

After a soccer game against ACU students, the Rohingya youngsters take part in a pilot ‘Skill Up’ program, which is jointly run by ACU and Multicultural Development Association (MDA) Ltd 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 15-24 who have arrived in Australia less than 5 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 group sessions provide a range of high-energy activities focused on the development of competencies in the common skills Employers need including communication, networking, problem solving, team work and developing a strong personal brand.

“This represents a 'Sport plus’ sport for development project where activities are structured around sport in order to achieve community outcomes,” Matthew said.

“The pilot has been very successful and with the help of Brisbane’s Health, Sport, and Well-being department we are looking to expand the program in semester 2 to a Futsal competition with multiple teams from various ethnic backgrounds, in addition to some student teams from ACU.

“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 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.

“Working together has also been valuable for ACU students who have had the opportunity to get to know the Young stars through Futsal and also through helping out in the education sessions.

“It is hoped that student involvement will become an increasing feature of the ongoing program.”

MDA Youth Engagement Officer Anna Tate her organisation believes 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.