Game Changers, a free program delivered by CMY over the past 12 months, was designed for young women from multicultural and refugee backgrounds, who are passionate about sports and promoting diversity in sports.
The young sportswomen attended two two-day workshops where they discussed their shared values and how to break down the barriers women from diverse backgrounds face when joining a sporting team.
Following the workshops, the participants received mentorship by leading women who work within the sporting industry. They were supported by representatives from Australia’s sports and recreation clubs, including Hume City Squash & Racquetball Club, Fitzroy Football Club, Eastern Siren Synchronised Swimming Club, Northern Saints Football Club, Wyndham Netball Association, Dandenong Tigers and Dandenong Softball Association.
Together, they worked for 10 to 12 weeks to deliver a female-focused initiative that aimed to increase accessibility and attract more multicultural women to their chosen sport - including soccer, squash, synchronised swimming, softball, Australian rules football and netball.
Amran Elmi, one of the program participants said she joined Game Changers because she saw a need to get other Muslim girls, like her, to get involved in netball, “when I go into the court, I don’t see many girls like me, so I felt like I needed to bring more Muslim girls to the club and get them playing.”
The most important thing she says she’s learned through this program is the every day, practical skills, like “how to plan a project, how to contact schools, and connecting with people that would help me with my project; it was a pretty good experience and something I’ve never done before.”
Shikha Basnet, who helped run the program, said the highlight for her was the netball event, which was the last of the six events.
“We had 50 girls from mostly South Sudanese and Somali backgrounds attend the event at Eagle Stadium in Werribee and we had a local MP attend as well. It was incredible seeing the difference in these women, they were really confident by the end and each event was really well-organised.”
“My mentors, they helped me to break down my ideas,” Amran said. “They were really helpful; they left the ball in my court but also guided me. Even the President of Wyndham Netball Association was really helpful during the planning and even on the day, he brought equipment to ensure the program ran smoothly.”
Through the program, some of the young women have received referrals to the clubs, three of whom have now joined the Northern Saints Football Club.
The Game Changers program was part of the Victorian Government’s Change Our Game initiative, proudly supported by Sports and Recreation Victoria.