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Sport to break down barriers on refugee day

By Leanne Coleman

Jiwan Gajmer, Pat Sim and Bertanizo Guro are training together to participate in the Football Cup Jiwan Gajmer, Pat Sim and Bertanizo Guro are training together to participate in the Football Cup

A Charles Darwin University Humanitarian and Communities Studies student is helping to instil a sense of community and build the confidence of new residents to the Territory.

Pat Sim is the Darwin co-ordinator of “Football Without Borders”, a program that aims to break down social barriers and build cultural ties.

Pat was inspired to study with CDU after travelling to Africa to volunteer in an orphanage and HIV clinic in Rwanda. Alongside his studies he volunteers with the Red Cross working with asylum seekers and refugees in Darwin.

He said that like many people moving to a new community, refugees often felt isolated.

“This program is about providing an opportunity to build ties within the community, create networks and build the confidence to take back control of their lives,” Pat said.

“I was amazed at the strength of many of the people I met (while travelling), who had been displaced and had almost no control over the direction their lives would take,” he said.

He said whenever he visited a new town in Africa he brought a football or basketball to break the ice with the community.

“Sport is a great vehicle for social interaction and football is a game known throughout the world,” he said. “Everyone knows how to play, it breaks down barriers, brings people together and helps people communicate.”

He said that working on the program alongside his studies would provide him with the skills to work with refugees in the future.

“It is difficult to understand what people have been through when you haven’t been in their situation,” he said. “My studies with CDU are helping me build my capacity and practical skills to ensure I am prepared, and can help in the best possible way.”

Pat said teams from the “Football Without Borders” program would be part of the World Refugee Day Festival and Football Cup organised by Melaleuca Refugee Centre.

The community event “with heart” celebrates the resilience, talents and achievements of people of refugee background. The event will be held on Saturday 14 June at Marrara Soccer Stadium, Abala Rd, Marrara. For more information about Melaleuca Refugee Centre World Refugee Day event visit www.melaleuca.org.au

The “Football Without Borders” program is a collaboration with CDU, Red Cross, Football Federation NT and the Melaleuca Refugee Centre.