By Thokgor Reech & Akech Manyangdit’s Yangdit, reporters at Sudanese Australian Voices (SAV)
African-Australians are looking for ways to represent Australia at the next Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
Sudanese community elder Mr Abraham Don says, that Africans in Australia can learn from their British counterparts and encourage greater participation in sport within their community.
“Luol Deng from South Sudan and Mo Farah from Somalia have created a good image for Africans in Great Britain and our kids can learn from that. Our kids need to contribute to Australia as a way of saying thanks to the nation that helped us settle here,” says Mr Don.
African-Australian kids are ready to take on this challenge according to Mr Don. “Our kids are getting involved in footy, marathon running, volleyball, basketball and soccer and looking to develop their skills so they have a shot at the next Olympics and World Cup,” explained Mr Don.
Fifteen-year-old Jacob Bol, is already leading the charge by training in AFL football and hopes he can play at a professional level one day. He says he also has aspirations to represent Australia in running at an Olympic level.
“Sport is something I like and most sports is fun and exercise can keep me healthy. It could help me to get a professional job too,” says Jacob.
Mr Angelo Tat, president of the Sudanese Luacjang Group of Australia, says it is important to support our children so that they can excel in sport. The proud father says, his own son has won two school competitions already and will compete in three more competitions.
With an abundance of media reports focusing on young Africans in trouble with the law, community leaders agree that motivating youth to participate in sport will create positive news stories. They also believe that engaging in sport will reduce current problems between African-Australian youth and the police created by high unemployment rates and limited job opportunities.
“Sport could be the key solution to this huge community problem by motivating our kids to keep busy and stay physically and mentally fit,’ says Mr Don.
However while African-Australian youth have shown an interest in sport they don’t always receive encouragement from local Australian sporting clubs, says Mr Don.
With many young African-Australians coming from communities that play soccer and basketball, there seems to be limited opportunities to get involved in sporting activities such as Australian Rules Football, he adds.
“We have so many talented youth with athletic gifts, but their talents aren’t being recognised due to the complex cultural differences of African-Australians and their approach to sport,” continues Mr Don.
However despite the complexities surrounding African-Australians involvement in sport in Australia, community elders hope that the next generation will be inspired by the likes of Mo Farah and represent Australia in future Olympics.