Some of the major issues facing refugee children participating in mainstream sport are a lack of understanding, interest, familiarity and financial constraints. With many organisations harbouring prejudices and biases towards refugee children, it is very difficult for them to have a real sense of belonging within many community groups.
Sunshine Heights Cricket Club can proudly boast that their junior and senior members are predominantly from non-English speaking backgrounds. Many players come from Vietnamese, Filipino, Maltese, Ugandan and Sudanese backgrounds. The Club has created a culture to foster a sense of belonging to everyone, regardless of their race, colour, sex, religion or financial status.
Through embracing the culturally diverse community in the north-west suburbs of Melbourne, Sunshine Heights Cricket Club has grown its club to consistently field junior teams in under 11, 13, 15 and 17. Sunshine Heights has developed their own Wednesday evening ‘fun cricket’ program for six to 10 year olds and are establishing an under-13 Sudanese team for the next season. The Club also seeks financial assistance on behalf of their teams to fund their players’ registrations, equipment and uniforms.
By creating relationships with local schools, the Club encourages new arrival children and parents to come to the club and get involved in cricket as players and volunteers. All members of the club are encouraged to welcome new arrivals to build their social and friendship networks with other children and families.
The Club has experienced ebbs and flows in their number of junior players but they are now experiencing an increase in this area as a result of their concerted efforts to embrace their community.