SBS News 17-02-2010, 'Refugees Sports Stars Sought'

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Refugee sports stars sought

 The government is encouraging refugees to Australia to take part in more sports, to find the stars of tomorrow.

 Newsreader: The Federal Government says that the vast majority of refugees in Australia will not take part in sport in their adopted countries.  Federal and State government initiatives are looking to address these issues in the hope of increasing participation rates and identifying the next generation of elite athletes.

SBS Reporter, Tim Stoney: Duer Yoa’s story is a familiar one. Born in Sudan he spent many years in a refugee camp in Egypt.

Duer Yoa: It wasn’t safe. Wasn’t much freedom there or as peaceful compared to Australia. Different life, different world.

Reporter: He arrived in Australia at 11 and next month becomes the first Sudanese born athlete to represent Australia at a senior level, when he runs at the world cross-country championships in Poland.

Duer Yoa: If you think of things back then its amazing where I am now as to where I have been and what I am doing.

Reporter: But it’s a different story for many other children of refugee.

Kate Ellis, Federal Sports Minister: We’re seeing that they are 2/3 less likely to be out there participating in sport. We know that sport is a central part of the way of life for Australians. We want to make sure that migrants get to play a role in that.

Reporter: This figure has prompted the Federal Government to launch a new online resource named all cultures. Aimed at increasing particpation rates in immigrant communities.

The website will provide tips for coaches and clubs on how to manages participants form CALD communities and address issues such as language.

The NGO Sports Without Borders is taking a very different approach to the same issues. The Youth Action program uses state of the art electronic equipment to engage children of refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Anne King, Sports Without Borders: The benefit of this programming is that it has the potential to measure. So, we can measure speed agility and reaction in a positive game sense environment.

Reporter: Three pilot programs will be conducted across Melbourne. Long term the aim is to roll a program out across the country and build a database of youth health.

Trevor Allen, Monash University: We really want to encourage kids to get a positive experience to see how they improve in all these things so a lot of the measurement is around giving them positive feedback.

Kate Ellis: We went to see people in the green and gold from all sorts of backgrounds and I have no doubt that there is some tremendous talent out there that has gone untapped for too long.

Reporter: While sport has can address many health and social issues refugees face when they arrive in Australia many migrants identity will always be a tricky issue.

Duer Yoa: If I had a choice to represent Australia or Sudan it probably would be Australia but it doesn’t mean that I am not Sudanese.