How adopting a multicultural strategy for multicultural communities strengthens sports
At the moment, 28% of the Australian population is born overseas, with 7.5 million Australians being first-generation migrants. Over the last few years, Australia’s population growth had accelerated to which 51% of its population is due to overseas migration. It is also forecasted that by 2030, over two-thirds of Australia’s population will come from overseas migration. However, despite this, there still remains a large underrepresentation among CALD communities within sports. Adults that speak a language other than English are 10% less likely to participate in sports or active recreation activities at a rate of 3 times a week. Even more so, alarmingly, their children are also less likely to participate as well with only 14% expected to take part in a sport or active recreation activity at least once per year outside of school hours.
These statistics alone show that there is a great need for organisations to better engage with their target audience. As a multicultural communications professional, as well as growing up playing AFL, rugby and cricket. I know firsthand the importance of promoting participation and engagement in sport from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia. Australia is an incredibly diverse country with a rich tapestry of cultures and languages. However, when it comes to sport, some multicultural groups have been underrepresented, leading to missed opportunities for both individuals and society as a whole. In this blog post, I will explore why encouraging participation and engagement in sport from multicultural communities in Australia is crucial and how it can strengthen both sport and society.
The author in his school footy days
Firstly, let’s consider the benefits of sport for individuals. Sport is an excellent way to stay healthy and active, both physically and mentally. It can help individuals develop important life skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, and perseverance. Sport can also provide a sense of belonging, identity, and purpose, particularly for those who may feel marginalised or isolated.
Now imagine if members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia were not able to access these benefits. They may miss out on opportunities to stay healthy and active, develop important life skills, and feel a sense of belonging. This can have a negative impact on their health, wellbeing, and social inclusion.
Encouraging participation and engagement in sport from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia can help address these issues. By providing opportunities for people from all backgrounds to participate in sport, we can ensure that everyone has access to the physical, mental, and social benefits that sport can provide.
However, it’s not enough to simply provide opportunities. We need to actively encourage and promote participation from multicultural communities. This requires a strategic approach that takes into account the unique needs and preferences of different communities.
One way to do this is to involve members of these communities in the planning and delivery of sport programs. By working with community leaders, cultural organisations, and individuals from diverse backgrounds, we can ensure that sport programs are culturally appropriate, inclusive, and accessible.
For example, if we want to encourage participation in soccer among a particular cultural group, we might work with community leaders to organise a tournament or event that celebrates the cultural heritage of the participants. Previously, we organised community footy trial sessions for children with AFL VIC in support of their new program, Junior X to encourage more children to engage with others and learn more about the sport. This can help to create a sense of pride and identity among participants, making them more likely to continue participating in sport in the future.
Another way to encourage participation and engagement in sport from multicultural communities is to address to facilities, cultural norms and expectations. Previous experiences of conducting CALD research included working with New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) to obtain insights on their attitudes towards NSWRL’s programs followed by providing them with an understanding of communities’ preferred communication methods.
To address cultural norms and expectations, we collaborate with community leaders and cultural organisations to ensure that sport programs are designed in a way that is culturally appropriate and respectful. To address language barriers, we provide the community with in-language assets that have been tailored to their preferred communication methods. To address the lack of access to facilities, we might work with local councils and organisations to provide funding or support for the development of new facilities in underrepresented areas. More importantly, to address inclusiveness, we partner with the community and organisations to create initiatives that support and celebrate diversity.
By addressing these barriers and tailoring sport programs to the needs and preferences of different communities, we can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.
Now let’s consider the benefits of encouraging participation and engagement in sport from multicultural communities for society as a whole.
One of the most significant benefits is social cohesion. Sport has the power to bring people together, regardless of their background, and create a sense of shared identity and purpose. By encouraging participation and engagement in sport from multicultural communities, we can help to break down barriers and promote social inclusion.
This can have a positive impact on community relations and help to reduce discrimination and prejudice. When people from different backgrounds come together to play sport, they have the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures, traditions, and values. This can lead to greater understanding and respect, as well as the formation of new friendships.
Working with numerous sports codes across the country, it’s so rewarding to see the social benefits of increased participation in sport, as well as strengthening those sports for the future. I want to see the future of sports as an industry where representation, inclusivity, and diversity are celebrated and ingrained in every aspect of the sporting world. By creating an environment that fosters mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds, we can harness the transformative power of sports to unite communities, break down barriers, and contribute to a more inclusive society.
The author in his school footy days (number 15)