Sport as a Means to Connect during Refugee Week: Multicultural Futsal (M-Series III) The Refugee Cup

The M-Series III Refugee Cup marking the beginning of Refugee Week is the biggest in the series of one-day tournaments that celebrate diversity, foster social cohesion and connect communities comprising members of Sydney's Afghan Hazara, Burmese Rohingya, Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian and Tibetan communities.

The Refugee Cup will be staged at the King George Recreation Centre in The Rocks, Sydney from 10am to 3.30pm on Sunday 16 June.

This landmark project is hosting eight one day tournaments over the course of a year that align to key dates in the City of Sydney’s social and cultural calendar.

A key objective in this multi-faceted project is to provide a platform for newly arrived migrants, their families and communities to build social capital through participating in futsal and football-oriented activities and competitions.

The M-Series Futsal serves as an example of meaningful collaboration between key stakeholder groups including a the state governing body for football and futsal (Football NSW), a professional football club (Western Sydney Wanderers FC), a local government authority (City of Sydney) a specialist not-for profit organisation, NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), a NSW government healthcare service provider (Sydney Local Health District) and an Australian youth charity (FAIRGAME Australia).

The project is the brainchild of Jarrod Galbraith-Marten, who in consultation with many community leaders, organisations, supporter agencies and individual members from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural groups, identified a need to develop a model of community engagement that enables these groups to enter an environment where they can participate in a sport that they enjoy, celebrate their cultural identity and forge lifelong friendships with members of other ethnic, religious and cultural groups.

CEO of STARRTS Jorge Aroche said the M-Series is the perfect sport to bring people from different backgrounds together. 

‘We have made colossal strides in our understanding of how the brain and body are affected by stress and trauma over the last 15 years," said Aroche.

"In the context of this learning journey, the importance of physical activity, fun and social connection for good mental health has become increasingly irrefutable.

"The M-series seems to offer a great package that addresses these three aspects through Football, a medium that has justly been nicknamed “the world game” because of its universal appeal across national borders and cultural and faith divides.’

Western Sydney Wanderers CEO, John Tsatsimas said it was important for the club to support the M-Series Futsal competition given Western Sydney’s vibrant and diverse community.

"Sport is an important vehicle for social change and inclusion so we are proud to once again be involved with the M-Series Futsal competition,” said Tsatsimas.

"We are all about helping people integrate into our community and assisting the process of fostering social cohesion."

Fair Game Australia will run fun health education activities and games for children.

Football NSW and Western Sydney Wanderers FC will be running community coaching courses for children aged between 5-16 years tomorrow.

Hamilton based young Tibetan refugee Olympic player, Shiwa Dul and Hazara refugee business leader, Hedayat Oysan will also attend the Refugee Cup on Sunday as guests of honour to present the trophy to the winners of the Male Youth Tournament.

City of Sydney’s Refugee Week runs from Sunday 16 June to Saturday 22 June with the theme ‘A world of stories’.