Soccer stars help young refugees

Thirty refugee boys were given a special treat this week, with some of Australia's soccer stars giving them tips on how to make it in the world's biggest game.

Soccer web

Thirty refugee boys were given a special treat this week, with some of Australia's soccer stars giving them 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 taught tactics and offensive and defensive moves. They also made suggestions on how to become a professional soccer player.

The refugee soccer camp is a joint initiative of 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.

Macquarie Bank Sports Foundation has contributed to the event.

For interviews please contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW media 9385 1583 or 0422 934 024, or Anne Bunde-Birouste, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, 0407 957 039.