Football United win for after-school care

A UNSW-led soccer initiative designed to improve social cohesion for young refugees, is now part of an after-school care program.

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A soccer program created by UNSW researchers that helps young refugees feel a greater sense of belonging is now part of an after-school care program in Canberra. 

Young refugees who participate in the Football United program – designed to improve social cohesion – have reported significantly stronger appreciation of Australia, a UNSW report shows.

Football United has been launched at Dickson College and Intensive English Centre, supported by ACT Health, and will be supported by Capital Football.

The program already operates in partnerships with councils, migrant resource centres, football clubs and associations throughout New South Wales and South Australia.

“It is our first program launched in partnership with a state football federation,” says Football United founding director Anne Bunde-Birouste, from UNSW Medicine’s School of Public Health and Community Medicine.

“We are ecstatic about the opportunities it can provide for our participants, and the beginning of our national upscaling.”

Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid says the program will improve the health and wellbeing of young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as build opportunities for belonging and community cohesion in Canberra and the wider ACT.

“Football is a wonderful vehicle for fostering educations experiences and promoting multicultural harmony in general,” Reid says.

“By working in collaboration with Football United, we will see more programs delivered to more people in more places – and that can only be a good thing.”

The UNSW research found 84 per cent of refugee youth reported feeling better after participating in the program. It also recommends governments and communities develop sports-based and related programs that run weekly for at least two terms and offer multiple opportunities to participate at different levels.

An SBS report on the program can be viewed here.

Media contact: Anne Bunde-Birouste 0407 957 039 I ab.birouste@unsw.edu.au I Alex Mindel 0412 804 730