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Football has a key role in migrant adjustment
New research from the University of Adelaide has detailed the important role that football plays in helping migrants to adjust to their new lives in Australia.
The research has uncovered a range of benefits for individuals and the wider community that, according to a University of Adelaide statement “are not fully recognised by immigration policy makers today”.
For his PhD in Geography, Environment and Population, researcher Justin Civitillo looked at the impact of amateur and semi-professional football on migrant groups in South Australia, and changes in the links between migrants and football since the Second World War.
Explaining that football is currently the second most played form of football in South Australia, Civitillo stated "much has been written on the experiences of postwar migrants to Australia and their economic, social and cultural adjustment.
“However, the impact of sport on the migrant experience should not be overlooked." The results of his study confirm that participation in football (soccer) clubs has been a major influence on the settlement experiences of new arrivals from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, many originally from Europe.
Civitillo stated "of the first generation immigrants we interviewed, 44% believed that their involvement with a soccer club had directly helped them to adjust to life in Australia.
“Participating in soccer helped them to develop their English language skills, and to build relationships with other migrants and the broader community.
“This has helped to increase their rate of integration into Australian society.
"Soccer clubs also helped participants to gain employment through contacts made at the club and to improve their personal self-confidence and wellbeing."
Civitillo says football clubs provide some immigrants with their only opportunity to socialise regardless of English language skills, and that more recent arrivals, such as people from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, are being drawn to football for reasons similar to those of previous generations of Europeans.
He says this research has implications for policy makers who are looking to maximise the opportunities for migrants to settle in Australia, concluding "sport is not currently a component of the Australian Government's structured Onshore Orientation Program for migrants.
“Considering the significant influence sport can have on social participation and mental and physical wellbeing, this is a missed opportunity.
"With soccer being the world's most widely played sport and its growing in popularity in Australia, encouraging migrants to participate in soccer may provide many benefits at an individual and social level.”
1st September 2014 - PEGGY O’NEAL TO CHAIR VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT ‘WOMEN IN SPORT’ TASKFORCE
10th December 2009 - SPORTS BODIES URGED TO CONSIDER NEEDS OF MIGRANTS
4th September 2009 - QUICK CITIZENSHIP FOR SPORTING MIGRANTS
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