May 22, 2024

When sport and culture collide - meet the young women making sport for all | ABC News

Published June 12, 2023, 7:20 p.m. by Jerald Waisoki

Disapproving parents, financial burdens, cultural taboos, and structural inequalities prevent many girls and women from culturally and linguistically diverse (cald) communities from participating in sport.

But these determined young women are working hard to change that.

Natasha Hill is a Lebanese-Indigenous Australian, who works in sport for development and runs her own football club. She’s helping to remove barriers facing girls and women who want to play sport in her community.

Former South Sudanese refugee Anyier Yuol runs diversity training for a wide array of organisations, including sporting clubs, where she urges them to rethink the way they operate to be more inclusive.

And international student, and Indian representative footballer, Tricia Collaco is striving to show others that sport is a viable career path for women.

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we really need more role models to just

support women and encourage them to

their journey just keep encouraging them


giving them the proper path and guide

them to their dreams rather than

telling them that you can't do this and

you're not capable of doing this

it's just a man's sport

what are you doing to really get the

conversation going

don't just say we are all about

diversity and harmony and inclusion

but you're not really showing the work

what are you doing to show the work

and that's what we need to see i think

it's about time we see action rather

than just

singing the song and not doing anything

so within the religion um it promotes

physical activity and health

so we're able to go out there as long as

we're not portraying ourselves in a rude

way when

you know an upfront manner we are

encouraged to be

physically active it's the culture that

has that taboo on it


let's go


my brothers have been playing for a few

years and i always wanted to play i was

rocked up at their training sessions

went to their games supported them

yeah and i had people tell me you know

you should play you should play and i

wanted to

you know playing football in our

community in our culture was seen as a


you know women shouldn't be female

should be running around on a field

it wasn't until i finished school got my

driver's license and was able to take

myself to training and games

when i joined so i was probably about 18

at the time

at the time i was hiding my boots in my

car as well as my uniform

and because my mom was like you know she

thought it was just a one-off thing

you know i was going to join for a game

or two and

not join from there and then week by

week we just had a bit of phantom

arguments back and forth um about me

playing and about

at the time i was wearing the head scarf

so i was wearing shorts and

being appropriate probably dressed

walking out of the house

being in public um so it wasn't it

wasn't perceived


that mindset has completely switched now

so i'd say mom's probably one of my

number one supporters um always you know

pushing and

encouraging me to keep going keep

working with the community and

keep doing things for the community

the reason that we're all here today is

to talk about the importance of women

and how we can really encourage women to

participate in sport in general

but also how we can address some of the

systematic issues

that are facing us in the sport industry

or in the sport organization

my parents are from south sudan i'm a

south sudanese

born but i was born in kenya in a

refugee camp called

kakuma refugee camp and that's pretty

much where i grew up for the first

10 years and then i migrated to

australia back in 2003

there weren't a lot of african

communities arriving at that time

and sport wasn't really much discussed

in our community in terms of women


you could go to school and you can

participate in any sport that you want

but when it comes to

enrolling on the weekend for example or

after school program

it wasn't really accepted so i think

that was one of the challenges that a

lot of

young women it was convincing their

parents to really participate into a




normally women are considered to be

homemakers rather than

something of being a sporting athlete so

if someone said they want to be an

athlete their parents would be like no

you need to stay at home and rather get

an education

in a certain degree like becoming a

doctor rather than being an athlete

it really has been a struggle because

there's sometimes

challenges such as politics where you

really need an influence to get into a


and sometimes the fundings that we are

given is not really that

much that we need if we have to travel

we have not given that

facilities that we need and the

nutrition that

we need for our sporting events

i put it down to three challenges the

uniform the travel

and the expenses so being a low-cost


we're able to encourage more young

people especially girls

to join and be an outlet for them to

express themselves

in that physical environment and being

able to afford it as well

when it comes down to uniform we allow

them to wear skins under their shorts if

they've put on the scarf as well with

the head scarf but at the same time


set up an agreement with the association

where they're allowed to wear traction

pants and third of all travel

or transport to and from games sometimes

to and from training even

so we try to work with the families

create that little tight-knit

support network and have you know a bit

of a carpooling system

so we have about 90 females in the club

out of about 290 players

we do have a majority muslim base and it

is those values that we

that we share so that's why they they

come to us and

they've been with other clubs that you

know sometimes before the games

they talk about certain things that

these girls don't feel comfortable with

or after games they'd go out for a drink

and yeah the family or them and their

family is uncomfortable with that so

they've come to us knowing that we're a

safe space


i think in australia we focus so much on

the representation of players

on on the field which is important and

we need that

however we need to look at our coaching

programs do we have enough diversity in

the coaching

program we need to look at example

community participation

members do they have enough

representation in those

areas we need to look our officials do

we have enough refs

that actually represent a diverse


in the team as well so there are things

that are still lacking that we need to

still look at and that

still need to be addressed and it's

going to take

conversation it's going to take advocacy

and awareness and we need to bring a lot

of people together to say

okay it's time that we do have this type

of conversation because

the sport is for everyone sports has

really given me the confidence and

the leadership skills that i need and

really empowers you that you can achieve

anything and just believe in yourself

football can put you in a right path it

can grounded you because it creates a

sense of family it can create a sense of


and it can really point you in the right


i've tried to put myself in as a role

model towards these young females

and you know whether it be putting

myself out there on a sports field

back in an admin role in a coach role i

try to let them see that they can

be what is they want to be and they do

have these opportunities



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