Community

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The power of community main

The power of community


Husna Nabi is a young Afghani woman who migrated to Australia as a teenager due to the regional insecurity in Pakistan. Settling into her new life wasn’t without its challenges, but thanks to her involvement in an innovative community engagement program, Husna is facing a bright future.

Migrating to a new country can have its hurdles. Language and cultural barriers, coupled with potentially traumatic or disadvantaged backgrounds, can lead to migrants and refugees experiencing financial, social and emotional hardship in their new home country. 

But Dr Matthew Pink, a research fellow with ACU Engagement, is working to battle these issues with an innovative sport program aimed at helping refugees and migrants to build community and gain access to new opportunities.  

The program, Kicking Goals Together (KGT), is a sport for development program that engages youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds through weekly soccer and educational opportunities. 

Husna, who is now studying a Bachelor of Accounting and Finance at ACU, attributes much of her success to her involvement in KGT.

“I have a passion for learning,” said Husna. “As soon as I knew KGT was offering classes to prepare students for the workplace, I was there. It was a wonderful experience, I enjoyed it a lot. I got to learn things which were outside of my boundaries that I was afraid of – but not anymore.” 

“KGT benefited me in many ways – I made good connections, I got a job out of it, and now that I am studying at ACU, I feel very comfortable and welcomed.”

Impact sat down with Dr Pink to discuss the program.

When and how did KGT get started?

“KGT came from a community need expressed to us. Several youth from the Rohingya Young Stars, a local soccer team with little support for regular training and competition expressed a desire for greater opportunities to engage in the sport they loved, meet new people, and develop their opportunities in Australia. They had worked incredibly hard to establish their own soccer team, however were looking for partnerships.

Husna Nabi

Husna Nabi

KGT first started in 2016 and began with a very simple invitation from the Young Stars to work with them in soccer training. With staff from ACU’s School of Behavioural and Health Science, we took up this invitation and training transitioned to ‘scratch matches’, and eventually the eight-team football competition and educational opportunity we see today. This competition involves youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and also staff and students from ACU.”

How do you see KGT benefit youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds? 

“In the past few years I have seen many examples of how youth have benefited from KGT. The first is a greater sense community. At KGT, we welcome members of all faiths and backgrounds. The program provides the opportunity to develop relationships with a diverse range of people. KGT also provides exposure to university for youth in the community. I have seen the campus become a comfortable place for youth to celebrate their love for football and express and be proud of their heritage and personal strengths. 

In addition, I have seen many examples of youth who have grown in their confidence, landed their first casual job, or started tertiary studies aided by the contacts and skills they have developed during KGT. 

Finally, KGT is a free regular sporting opportunity where youth can express their talents in a fun yet competitive social football competition. This brings a physical and psychological benefit as for many youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds, there are barriers to such a regular opportunity.” 

Who is involved in KGT?

“KGT is a collaboration between ACU, Multicultural Development Australia (MDA), and members of Brisbane’s refugee and migrant communities.” 

What are your hopes for KGT in the future?

“My hope is that this program continues long into the future and new youth and partners come into the space. I am particularly excited about the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences increasing involvement, as championed by Dr Daniel Van den Hoek. I would love to see it expand to a ten team competition. Through external funding and partnerships, there may also be scope to expand to other Brisbane locations.” 

The program was recently nominated in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Awards category for Community Engagement.

Dr Pink is a Research Fellow with ACU Engagement. His research areas of interest include the transformational processes of university-community engagement, sport for development in developing and developed nations, and elite athlete welfare and development.

Dr Matthew Pink

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G