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Afghan community organise ‘mini Olympics’ in Australia

Afghan communities' 'mini Olympics' Source: SBS

These games provide an opportunity for the many different groups within the broader Afghan community to come together.

Afghan-Australians from around the country are in Sydney for their communities' third annual sporting festival.

The event provides an opportunity to bring together different groups under the banner of sport.

For the last three years members of Australia's Afghan communities have descended on a capital city for the sporting carnival that's come to be known as the "mini Olympics".

First Adelaide, then Melbourne.

This year, Sydney.

The event (Dec 26-30) being held at a park in the suburb of Blacktown runs for five days.

Yunus Noori, who came to Australia as a refugee in 1999, is from the group known as the Afghan-Sports-Federation-of-Australia, and helped create the Afghan Sports Festival.

"I'm very much passionate about sports. I know how important it is to build a stronger healthier and safer community."

Teams are made up of amateur and professional athletes, with competition ranging from table tennis and chess - to martial arts and weight lifting.

Football, though, reigns supreme.

Twenty teams play over three days in the men's competition.

It can get feisty on the field.

But player Naeem Rahimi says it's a chance for the many different groups within the broader Afghan community to come together.

"Well, we have the Hazaras, the Pashtuns and the Uzbeks. It's just to get all of us together. It's got nothing to do with the races that were there in Afghanistan, nothing to do with the political problems there. Here, it's just the Afghan community. We're all together having a fun day out.”

Melbourne student Lena Mirzae joined one of the women's teams taking part.

She says it is exciting to try playing new sports.

"Us girls are trying to push ourselves to break the culture barriers, especially coming from a cultural background where girls are prevented from playing sport."

The next "Mini Olympics" will be held in Brisbane.