Sports raise hands to help migrants, refugees find harmony

Abdelrahman Kuku. Source: SBS

SBS World News Radio: Representatives of five sports have come together through the Australian Red Cross in a bid to engage recent migrants and asylum seekers with their new communities through sports.

Abdelrahman Kuku was born in Egypt to Sudanese parents 19 years ago.

At the age of 8, he arrived in Australia with his family to escape a troubled life in Egypt.

But despite hopes of finding a better life at the time, he says his early memories are not good ones.

"It was very hard. I remember the first day I went to school, I didn't really want to stay. I kept telling my mum in Arabic, 'Don't leave me here. Take me with you, please. Don't leave me here.'"

Those early memories have faded now, though, and, after devoting his life to football, he is ready to make his mark with the A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers.

"I've always loved football, since I was little. Even when I was back in Egypt, I didn't really care about the war, all I cared about was football. (I) played football from morning to night, that's it."

That is why Kuku was happy to join representatives of cricket, netball, rugby league and AFL as part of a Sports Harmony initiative hosted in Sydney's west by the Red Cross.

But while sport is helping young migrants at the grassroots, one politician suggested it should also have input on the Federal Government's proposed changes to race hate laws.

New South Wales Labour parliamentarian Guy Zangari says that input is needed.

"The sporting codes really should, because we can't give the green light to racism. And what we don't want to see is our children saying to somebody else, you know, 'You're not worth it because of your religion or your colour.'"

The AFL's New South Wales multicultural manager, Nickie Flambouras, has been involved in organising both Sports Harmony Days held up to now.

She says sports really does have a significant role to play.

"It's a good opportunity for us to all work together as sporting codes of Australia and really use our sports as a vehicle of integrating people into our Australian society."

Abdelrahman Kuku says he is keen to stay involved in helping new migrants and refugees, partly because sport has helped him find happiness and a mission in life.

"I love being part of that. It gives people hope, you know, not to keep going out drinking and all that stuff. It's better to stay with football, like what I did. Football kept me away from everything."



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