Sport as a tool for social inclusion at the ASRC Footscray

At the end of last year the ASRC Footscray officially opened its doors at its new site at 214 Nicholson St, Footscray. The much-celebrated opening saw speeches by the late Malcolm Fraser and other special guests along with performances from Circus Oz and more.

Months later, the celebrations are not forgotten but the centre resumes its busy place in the community, where people are made to feel welcome, safe and supported. Courtney Green, Social and Community Development Manager at the ASRC Footscray, and her team work to provide meaningful engagement opportunities across three areas: mentoring; social outings and activities; sports and arts programs.

Green sees sport as a tool for social inclusion and has built on a number of programs to make sport available for more members of the ASRC community. Soccer is a universal language, and fittingly, 2015 marks the third year ASRC members have fielded a soccer team in the Vic Soccer Amateur Soccer League. This sporting feat has been made possible with help from New Hope Foundation, Brimbank City Council and community leaders. 

Additionally, the Women’s Recreation Program has been running for a year. There was a growing need for women specific sporting activities to address health issues faced by newly arrived communities. After a morning tea where women from the community were asked to voice their sporting hopes a walking group was started. As time has gone on, and the confidence builds these women engage in soccer, zumba and some took part in the Melbourne Marathon 5.7km run/walk last year. 

Green speaks proudly of the sporting opportunities offered to ASRC members, and is encouraged by the club support. For example, Elwood Cricket Club sponsor a number of players and embrace players newly arrived to Australia. Furthermore, the local YMCA gym has opened its doors to a pilot program that gives ASRC members access to the gym. Members work with a volunteer to be coached and trained in fitness and exercise. The volunteer helps individual ASRC members find a suitable gym workout, offer encouragement and assist in technique. 

Examples like these highlight the need for sports programs focused on inclusion, and its importance as a tool to engage with new and emerging communities. Sports Without Borders looks forward to future work with the ASRC Footscray in helping new and emerging communities engage in sport.