Australia is often described as a culturally diverse, or multicultural, country. It is home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples), but has also embraced significant levels of migration throughout its more recent history. “Clearinghouse for Sport, 2018”
Football is striving to use our game as a positive vehicle for helping people from a culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to feel part of the community. Australia has a diverse multicultural population and football participation in many regions reflects this diversity. The 2011 ABS census revealed that almost a quarter (24.6%) of Australia’s population were born overseas and 43.1% of people have at least one overseas-born parent. It is predicted by 2025, overseas born families will outnumber Australian born families.
In many other countries, football is played for fun, in the streets and is casual. In Australia, sport is organised, you are expected to turn up and there is generally an emphasis on winning. As this is different to what some of those individuals from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds are used to, it can create problems engaging this population in organised sport (Hancock, Cooper & Bahn 2009).
Participation in football can promote ethnic and cultural harmony and strengthen communities by breaking down cultural barriers between different ethnic (and sometimes language) groups in the community. It can assist in building links and trust within CALD communities and between CALD communities.
Promotion of your club’s activities and programs to CALD communities will promote opportunities for these populations and enhance sporting inclusion, while assisting your club in building and maintaining membership and players.
Some things your club should consider if working with culturally and linguistically diverse people, including newly arrived migrants or refugees:
Is the cost of your programs, membership or competition fees a barrier to some people?
Is transport a barrier and is there an opportunity for you to conduct activities in various locations which make it easier for people to attend?
Do you have equipment for people to borrow so they can try your sport?
Can they see themselves in your communications and media?
While the barriers mentioned above are commonly referred to in research and feedback from State Sporting Associations, each community is different and has different needs. Your club will benefit by getting to know your local community and consulting with community leaders.