The Soccer Level Playing Field

I have finished watching the tenth national soccer A-league final between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, and it is surprisingly like seeing the United Nations in session. Both cities have a high number of diverse ethnic minorities in Australia.

While I view commercialised sport with some dismay, as I believe it is the opium of the masses in the modern world, this league does provide some public good given its power to unite our diverse immigrant communities. When you watch the crowds, largely coloured faces, it hard to find the White among them as they are the minority. This game gives new arrivals and refugees the chance to excel in a sport as they have played in their respective home countries: as we all know soccer is the most popular game played in the world.

There is no doubt in my mind, soccer will eventually supersede Australia Rules Football in the not too distant future when you consider that  Australia’s Socceroos are a rising star, – having won the Asian championship in 2014 and made it to the last 3 World Cups.  Then there is the Matilda’s for female sports.

The brainchild of Frank Lowy, himself a post war migrant to Australia, the A-league was created in 2005 in an attempt to replace the former strife-torn, ethnic-based clubs (South Melbourne Hellas, Melbourne Croatia etc. ) that dominated the sport until that point, as a new socially inclusive, Australian based league of teams.

Until then soccer competitions across Australia were dominated by clubs whose strength was based on the passion of the communities they represented and yet also represented soccer’s greatest impediment to the sport gaining broader public appeal.

Sport can be a wonderful platform for cross and multicultural engagement and I will have to learn that; as much as it pains me to see commericalised sports flourish. It is a wonderful tool to showcase that multiculturism can benefit Australia and maybe, just maybe, help the dominant white class to appreciate what it feels like to be a minority at times, and understand why we need more structured policies and processes to be promoted to ensure social inclusion.



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