Soccer stars help young refugees

Thirty refugee boys will be given a special treat on Wednesday, (10 January) when some of Australia's soccer stars take to the field to offer tips on how to make it in the world's biggest game.

Thirty refugee boys will be given a special treat on Wednesday, (10 January) when some of Australia's soccer stars take to the field to offer tips on how to make it in the world's biggest game.

Socceroo and Sydney FC defender Mark Milligan, former player and soccer personality Andy Harper and Sydney FC's Brendan Renaud will teach tactics and offensive and defensive moves, as well as making suggestions on how to become a professional soccer player.

The refugee soccer camp is a joint initiative of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Auburn Migrant Resource Centre and STARTTS (the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors), for boys between the ages of 14 and 18, who have escaped war and violence in countries such as Sudan, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mohamed Baaruud, a refugee from Somalia and Young Men's Project Officer with STARTTS, said that because of their past experiences, young refugees often need extra help to begin new lives.

"Using sport to connect with young men can be very effective. It teaches teamwork, cooperation and leadership skills.

"Just as importantly, the young men can find valuable male role models among coaches, referees and others. This is especially important for young refugees, many of whom have lost fathers, brothers and uncles," he said.

The soccer camp builds on the Refugee Youth Soccer Development Program, an initiative of UNSW, which started in the Liverpool, Parramatta, Auburn, Fairfield and Blacktown areas last year.

"Sport is increasingly being looked to as an effective way of bringing people together, to promote not only health, but social cohesion and even peace-building," said Anne Bunde-Birouste, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW, who started the program.

"We are thrilled with the successes the program has already achieved," she said. "The camp is yet another step to provide important mentoring and leadership skills for these young men."

"It is inspirational for these kids to have soccer stars dedicating their time to the camp," said Gode Migerano, from the Auburn Migrant Resource Centre. "The whole place is abuzz with excitement."

Between 6,000 and 7,000 refugee children arrive in Australia every year, mostly from Africa and the Middle East.

Macquarie Bank Sports Foundation has contributed to the event.

What: Soccer camp for young refugees
When: Monday 8 January to Thursday 11 January
Where: Collaroy Centre, Homestead Avenue, Collaroy Beach

Please note: Mark Milligan, Andy Harper and Brendan Renaud will be at the camp on Wednesday from 3.30pm; former player and soccer personality Craig Foster will attend the tournament final on Thursday between 9am-noon and former Socceroo and head coach of the Blacktown Demons, Aytek Genc, will host clinics on several days.

Please inform either Rebecca Hinchey, Public Affairs Coordinator STARTTS on 9794 1966 or 0412 220 984 or Susi Hamilton, UNSW media 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024, if you will be attending.

For interviews, please contact: Mohamed Baaruud, STARTTS, 0412 811 466; Anne Bunde-Birouste, UNSW, 0407 957 039 and Gode Migerano, Auburn Migrant Resource Centre 0423 049 937.

Date Issued: 8 January, 2007