Carlton Community Sports Carnival: Young people's passion makes it happen

The young people of the Carlton area distinguished themselves on Wednesday 28th March, 2011. How? A group of young people from the many newly-arrived cultures  of Carlton organized and perhaps established the Carlton Community Sports Carnival held at Melbourne University as a yearly event.

The CCSC as it is locally known had around 150 people attending over the day, with passion, excitement and a deep love of football on show.

The futsal tournament with different age groups was the feature of the event alongside clinics with Tennis Victoria, Carlton FC and Melbourne Heart. Lady Fingers DJ Collective built the atmosphere with beats and tunes and the halal BBQ, run by the Drum Youth Services and YMCA replenished participants.  A particular highlight was Ben the Crepe man from the university, who provided chocolate crepes to all who lined up at his big frying pan.

The day was the culmination of the Run Kick Play: Active Carlton project, coordinated by Sports Without Borders, in partnership with City of Melbourne, Melbourne University, Melbourne University Sports Centre, The Drum Youth Services, YMCA, NYCH, Carlton Football Club, and Melbourne Heart.  The project saw a core group of young people complete a leadership and sports management training program, run by CMY and SWB.  The young people were then supported to develop, design and run their own sports event – which became the Carlton Community Sports Carnival.    The final stage of the project is the awarding of $5,000 in sports scholarships to young people in the local community to join local clubs – ensuring pathways and sustainability are a part of the program.

Melbourne Heart player Kamal Ibrahim attended the initial information session and young people enjoyed hearing his experiences and the challenges of playing professional sport. Kamal’s background is similar to that of many of the young people in the Carlton community, born overseas, and forced to flee their countries of origin because of conflict and war.  In Australia he worked hard, trained hard and played hard, and has achieved a level many aspire to. Team mate David William attended the event, signing bottles, chatting with the young people and sharing his experiences and stories.  He stressed the importance of listening to your coach, as well as working hard, and shared his visions for working with indigenous Australians.

The day saw perfect early autumn and sports playing weather and Melbourne University Sports Centre was taken over by young people from Carlton and the local surrounds, including teams from the Flemington Eagles.  The young women also played, and played well, challenging the boys on the field.

The clinics conducted by Tennis Victoria, Carlton Football Club and Melbourne Heart around the sports ground were very popular – and a great option for the young children as well.  The young women particularly liked tennis, asking: ‘When does this happen again?’ and ‘how can I join a club?’ –  a great reward for the hard work put in by Tennis Australia.

At the Carlton Football Club clinic, young people from Africa showed skills with the odd-shaped ball, proving adept at it despite soccer being their number one game.

The Melbourne Heart clinic kept the young people kicking, scoring and practicing their skills, as well as learning more about the professional aspects of the game they love.

Roving media reporter Abu Bhakar and cameraman Mustaf caught the best of the day’s action, as part of their training in media skills with the support of SWB media man Tom Demetriou.

Two of the young leaders Liban and Shino, achieved local fame, when interviewed by ABC Contact Sport producer Simon Conway (ABC Contact Sport link, 30th March, 2012) The interview was the second in a series showing the relationship of sport and its importance to newly-arrived and refugees for social inclusion. The interview showed that with work and commitment from newly-arrived young people, they can get their voices heard by the wider population and get a message out.

The day reached fever pitch when everybody’ s attention moved to the outer Futsal pitch for the Grand Final of the tournament between Flemington Eagles team, ‘SS Swag’ and the local young people’s team, ‘Nutella’ named after the spread of choice at the crepe bar. There were 50 to a 100 people on the sidelines, cheering in great excitement.  The game went to SS Swag, 2 – 1, and a sea of red Flemington Eagles swarmed over the victors, and even the adults were overwhelmed with the celebrations.

The winning team was awarded gift vouchers, with an award for best and fairest on the day. The runners up were given tickets to see Carlton Football Club at the MCG.

The CCSC highlights how projects can support the needs of migrant and refugee background young people, and empower them with the skills, confidence and experience to become successful in their endeavors and contribute more widely in their local communities.

The project highlights the power of a whole of community approach to social inclusion though sport, and the partnerships between the stakeholder organizations was essential in to the success and scope of the project.

Sports Without Borders would like to thank all those involved for their support, hard work, and expertise across the day, and a special thank you to Melbourne University Sports Centre for opening up their facilities and hosting the event.

A DVD of highlights of the project will be available next month.

Photos on Sports Without Borders Facebook