Building relationships within the community has never been so fun.
Interreach Ability Link Program teamed up with Centacare and Griffith’s Post School Options (GPSO) to help new residents in Griffith make connections in the community and mingle with others they normally wouldn’t have the pleasure of meeting.
In a friendly futsal match on Saturday, GPSO played host to two teams, one Malaysian and one Afghan, which resulted in a friendly clash of cultures that bred friendship.
Centacare’s Joanne Fitzpatrick said seeing the two groups come together was an amazing experience.
“It was a fast game, they were all really skilled, and with the coaching from Rocky, we watched the two groups start off unsure of each other and by the end, they were all exchanging phone numbers and planning to meet again,” Mrs Fitzpatrick said.
“From my observations, migrants and refugees can stick to their own communities. There is some mixing going on and the town is very accepting. Many have said they have been made welcome and people are good to them, but still there is some are hanging back.”
Interreach’s Rey Ranin said after seeing many people come into Griffith with no connections, giving these new residents the chance to meet was “heartwarming.”
“It was initially difficult to find people willing to participate, however when I told some of the guys I knew, we had around 25 people come, both to play and to watch,” Mr Renin said.
“Sports can bring people together, and the mental health side. For the refugees, they are not allowed to send for their families, so a lot of them are on their own, so stress and pressure can build up.”
With coaching conducted by Rocky Marando, many of the players who hadn’t kicked a ball for years were racing around the court giving each other a run for their money.
“It was fantastic,” Marando said.
“Football is a world game, and it just goes to show its transformative power with two different cultures coming together to have a friendly match.
“It brought them together, and created those friendships through football.”
With many players coming from a background in football, language barriers posed only a small issue in the scheme of excitement.
“They had the skills, they had the footballing background, and there were a couple of guys I knew through the football community, so we had them helping and had the transition easier.
“I want to thank both communities for coming down, it was great to show our facilities off and welcome anyone who would like to come down.”
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