Written by Mamuch Chuol

I count myself fortunate to have had a 10-week internship at Melbourne United and CMSport. The path that led me to this incredible opportunity was paved through extensive networking and a deep-rooted commitment to community engagement.

Sport, for me, has always been more than just a game. It is a powerful tool for building connections across community. I firmly believe that the sense of belonging cultivated through sport is indispensable in nurturing a range of skills, both on and off the field, particularly among young people from marginalised communities. Reflecting on my own upbringing, I recognised a lack of safe sporting spaces for young South Sudanese people to have access to. Many miss out on the chance to connect with their community through sports due to cost, not knowing how to connect with sporting clubs and no support from family. This realisation is the cornerstone of NextGen Unite, a not-for-profit organisation I helped found.

The primary aim of NextGen Unite is to create a platform for South Sudanese youth, alongside community elders, to foster connections and provide unwavering support throughout their journey. I believe that sport not only generates opportunities but also forges enduring friendships and professional connections. The sheer joy of playing the game serves as a powerful catalyst for personal growth.

Creating Networking Opportunities 

Networking was the catalyst in securing this internship opportunity, underscoring the significance of cultivating professional relationships. My networking journey has been supported by organisations like the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) where I have volunteered as a Shout Out speaker and member of the CMY Youth Advisory Group. These experiences not only allowed me to actively contribute to important community initiatives but also enabled me to forge connections that eventually led to a referral for the internship.

My internship has given me a unique perspective, spanning work in both an elite sporting club and a not-for-profit organisation. This afforded me valuable insights into different approaches to program development and stakeholder management. Beyond expanding my knowledge of program setup, the internship facilitated meaningful connections that will serve as a crucial support system for NextGen initiatives moving forward.

During my internship, I was involved in organising unforgettable experiences – particularly the Hoop City Leadership Day and Melbourne United Multicultural Festival. I curated a unique opportunity for 125 multicultural young people at the Melbourne United vs. New Zealand Breakers games. In addition to supporting logistics for the Multicultural Festival, I organised a session for twenty-five young people who enjoyed the match from a corporate suite engaging with Melbourne United CEO Nick Truelson and basketball stars such as Malith Machar, Flynn Cameron, and Joe Lual-Acuil Jr. This experience not only left a lasting impact on the participants but also opened doors to new possibilities.

I also led the facilitation of a Hoop City Leadership session (at Melbourne United’s HQ) for 15 multicultural youth from across Melbourne, guiding them on pathways to enter the sports industry. The session included a dynamic speed networking event with professionals from NBL, CMSport and Melbourne United, along with insights from Wallstreet HR on the importance of CVs, cover letters and building a LinkedIn profile. The program concluded on a high note with a fun and challenging basketball skills session with Melbourne United Academy coach Nathan Crosswell.

Bringing It All Back to NextGen Unite

As I reflect on this internship, I’m more committed than ever to empower the next generation of multicultural young people through NextGen Unite. I am sincerely grateful for this enriching experience and eagerly anticipate further contributions to community empowerment through sports. The skills, connections, and experiences gained during this time will undoubtedly contribute to the success of our future programs and for young South Sudanese people living in Melbourne. 

Follow NextGen Unite on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.