It really is something else, watching a group of refugee mothers and children run around with smiles on their faces, laughing and giggling as they kick footballs to each other in a field.
Yesterday on World Refugee Day, over 50 mothers and children came together to celebrate the end of Term 2 for the CALD Women’s Group*, held at St Mary’s Sporting Club in South Geelong.
Watching a 68-year-old refugee woman perform a tackle is not something you would see every day – her enthusiasm to give it a go and the smile on her face afterwards warmed the hearts of all who stood watching.
AFL Barwon hosted this wonderful event, organising football activities for the women and children and a tour of the GMHBA Stadium.
The activities provided the participants with an opportunity to learn basic football techniques while having a fun and engaging time with their peers.
‘There are so many benefits from this program I don’t know where to start,’ says Barwon Football Development Manager, Jess Smith. ‘They’re getting out and being active, and it’s enabled us to introduce our sport in a really safe and comfortable space. We’re just breaking down some of those barriers you know – if their kids ask them to play football, the mothers can see that it’s a lot of fun and there are many benefits to it.’
‘It’s hard to put into words – it just doesn’t feel like words are enough to explain how amazing this all is,’ says Jess.
Many of the mothers cannot speak English, and have experienced trauma and ongoing challenges, but they didn’t let that stop them from having a fun and hands-on day.
AFLW player Richelle “Rocky” Cranston also attended the event, spending time with the women and children and participating in the training activities.
‘They really enjoyed the day. This was the first time the mothers have ever played football, and it’s given them something new to try,’ says Chrimo, who translates for the mothers and supports the program. ‘For the mothers, being in a group like this is not just about the activities – any difficulty that they go through, when they’re in this group together they can talk about it and learn how to sort it out.’
The CALD Women’s Group is made up of women from Karen, Karenni and Middle Eastern backgrounds, who attend regular activities and information sessions as part of the program. These sessions, like the one yesterday, help the women to bond with one another while also teaching them new skills; helping them to settle well.
We thank AFL Barwon for their enthusiasm and support in facilitating this event, as well as North Geelong Secondary College and supporters who enable the continuation of this program; providing invaluable support for refugee mothers and their families.
*The CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) Women’s Group is part of CatholicCare’s Settle Well Program, which supports young refugees and asylum seekers in the Geelong area. Find out more: Geelong Settle Well