Tasmania’s Bhutanese communities have demonstrated the value of getting involved in sport, recreation and community life by hosting the 5th Interstate Soccer Tournament.
Bhutanese communities around Australia have been hosting tournaments for four years. In July 2016 it was Tasmania’s turn.
Members of the Bhutanese/Kirat Association of Tasmania (BKBAT) and Bhutanese Community of Tasmania (North) worked together to host the four-day event that attracted about 500 players to Launceston from Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
For the Bhutanese, the Interstate Soccer Tournaments are more than just sport. Getting involved in sport helps community members and strengthens networks.
After struggling as refugees in Nepal, the Bhutanese community members believe the opportunity to play soccer can empower young people by encouraging participation in their new home, while also enjoying the physical and mental health benefits of sport.
Participating in the soccer games promotes good sportsmanship and a sense of healthy competition among the young people. Accredited umpires and referees were engaged and the games were conducted according to FIFA Rules.
The Interstate Soccer Tournaments builds networks among Australian Bhutanese communities across Australia and with culturally diverse communities from wider Australian communities of Tasmania. Organising the tournaments also involves collaborating with councils, local soccer clubs, service providers and other community organisations.
Young people and women were actively involved in organising the event in order to build teamwork and develop planning and organizational skills. This was regarded as important so future organising committees would gain skills and experience, and build community capacity to execute future projects.
The 5th Interstate Soccer Tournament received funding from the Multicultural Grants Program, which is administered by Communities, Sport and Recreation, Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The Multicultural Grants Program aims to assist migrants to settle and feel welcome in Tasmania, to help build the capacity of established communities and to foster cross-cultural understanding and engagement.