On The Ball: Sport helps young people settle in to their new life

September 20, 2017

Youth transitions support pilot program participant Saif Aeso“We are actually hoping that he’ll be able to help coach a local team soon,” says Todd Anderson, Operations Manager of Broadmeadows Basketball Association and the Hume City Broncos,

“Saif has already started coaching at the skill sessions for under-12s every Monday. He works with one of our senior women players as a volunteer assistant coach.”

Saif Aeso is one of the 20-30 young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds who gather at the Broadmeadows Basketball Association’s courts every Friday to engage with the sport, as well as, with other young people from the local area.

The basketball sessions are part of CMY’s Youth transitions Support Pilot Program.

“The program is aimed at 15-25 year old, newly arrived young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds,” explains Ed Alexander, Project Officer – CMY, who runs the games each week,

“It uses different methods to support young people in to education, training and employment pathways.”

“Working with the Broadmeadows Basketball Association, we are using basketball as a means of engagement for the young people from the local area, most of whom we’ve met through language schools.”

Youth-focused outcomes

The program has seen tremendously positive outcomes with regards to soft skills such as communication skills, leadership skills and confidence building for most of the young participants.

“Certainly the improvement in confidence is the biggest thing, I have seen,” says Todd, “Sometimes the kids are here before time, ready to go and waiting to get started!”

“Their basketball skills have really improved too! It is only a matter of time till we have them playing in competitions.”

“A lot of these young people have had a pretty tricky journey up to this point,” adds Edward, “This is their opportunity to build social connections, learn new skills and move on to becoming stronger together.”

“The program is deliberately designed to not be competitive because we want it to be an avenue for those young people who wouldn’t ordinarily engage with basketball to feel comfortable approaching it.”

Meet the rising start

“The program is completely free and is a great place to meet and hang out with friends too,” says 20-year-old Saif,

“I have made new friends, gained confidence and learned to communicate better.”

Saif was born in Iraq and has been in Australia for eight months.

“I love basketball and have been playing since I was 10 years old. I used to coach younger players back home,” he says.

It was only a matter of time till his passion for the game and prowess as a coach became apparent to the program co-ordinators.

basketball program at CMY

“He, quite quickly, sought me out to see if there are any opportunities for him to take on coaching and play a bit more professionally,” says Ed.

“He’s volunteering as an Assistant Coach now to get more experience working with young people in this area.”

“And we are now working with the association to get him formal, locally recognised accreditation with which he can go on to paid coaching.”

Additionally, the Basketball Association plans on subsidising the entry fees for their weekly 3-on-3 tournaments for the young people from the program.

Future plans

“We are working with CMY to get more of the participants involved in coaching, possibly playing and doing a referee course. That way they can earn a bit of pocket money if they want,” says Todd.

“The next step is a more formal program, where some of the more experienced participants will organise it, coach the younger players and run it.”

“So it will be a program for young people organised and coached by young people.”

“In the future, we want to look to add a professional qualification component to the current program structure,” adds Ed.

“We also want to do further work with the Association to bring them in to showcase more career opportunities for young people in sport.”

Youth Transitions Support is a pilot program delivered in partnership with local services in Hume. The program is aimed at addressing barriers to participation in education, training and employment that are specific to newly-arrived young migrants and refugees under 25. Youth Transitions is supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services as part of Youth Transitions Support Pilot Program, led by the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

For more information on the Youth Transitions Support Pilot Program, contact Ed Alexander on 0431 580 341 or ealexander@cmy.net.au