Praise for refugee soccer program

October 24, 2012 Agencies
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University of NSW Chancellor David Gonski and Football Federation Australia deputy chairman Brian Schwartz showered praise on an innovative program that uses football to help integrate immigrants, especially refugees, into Australian society.

Teresa and Yom – Two Sudanese girls from Football United in the award-winning film for Foxtel, “Passport To Hope”

Gonski officially released a research report last Friday called “Playing for Change,” a three-year study headed by Sally Nathan and funded by the Australian Research Council that found 84% of respondents had positive social outcomes thanks to Football United, a program founded at UNSW in 2006.
The study involved kids from 31 different cultural backgrounds and found that those inside the Football United program had significantly less peer problems and more pro-social behaviour.
More than 4000 disadvantaged kids, mostly refugees, have engaged in the Football United program in three states – NSW, Queensland and ACT – since it was founded.
Gonski said the program and the research report “ticked all the boxes of what I want for this university”.
Founded by senior lecturer Anne Bunde-Birouste, the program “demonstrated what sport can do,” Gonski added.
Schwartz noted it was the first time he and Gonski were at the same lectern discussing football.
Ten players in the A-League arrived here as refugees, Schwartz noted. “If you just look at that microcosm you begin to see how important this program is,” he said, noting that Football United was one of FFA’s community and social responsibility projects.
Following the release of the report, Gonski announced that Football United would become a national organisation in partnership with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Health.

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