Cultural Diversity in Sport

In 2017, Australia was dubbed ‘the most ethnically diverse country in the world’, with over 25% of the total population born overseas, and nearly 50% of the population having a parent who was born overseas.  With Victorians hailing from over 200 countries around the world, speaking 260 languages and dialects,and following 135 different religious faiths, your club may be missing out on a huge portion of the population by not considering the barriers to participation our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) community members face. 

Indeed, according to findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics through the Sports Participation report, CALD communities are currently two-thirds less likely to participate in sport and recreation in comparison to other Australians. This highlights a significant opportunity for sporting clubs to provide more inclusive, flexible participation options for CALD communities.  With memberships to sporting clubs declining in Australia every year, addressing cultural barriers to participation in your club is a significant way to improve membership numbers. Not only this, but by engaging CALD communities, you open the door for more volunteers, more skilled players, and a more sustainable club. Becoming a more culturally inclusive club also means you are ensuring your club accurately reflects Australia’s cultural background and diverse community members, as well as creating a reputation of being an inclusive and welcoming club.  So, what does this mean for your club, and what can you do to engage CALD communities, if you are not already?

  • Sports Focus can connect you with local services who work with CALD community members.
  • Undertaking ‘Cultural Awareness’ training with your committee and club members to increase understanding of issues influencing local CALD communities. This training does not have to be intensive or difficult for your club!
  • Market your club or participation opportunities to local services working with the CALD community.
  • Develop a club cultural inclusion or cultural diversity policy and promote this through your networks. Click here to access the Centre for Multicultural Youth’s Game Plan Resource Kit for more information, and see page 27 for a sample policy for your club.
  • Consider hosting alcohol free social functions as some CALD communities do not believe in the consumption of alcohol and may feel uncomfortable during alcohol-heavy functions.
  • Appoint a ‘welcoming officer’ or ‘welcoming committee’to develop strategies to ensure new members feel welcomed, safe and included.
  • Be aware of important cultural and religious days and events; particularly when scheduling social functions.
  • Consider access barriers such as transport,membership, costs and uniform fees.  For example, does your club have a flexible uniform policy or a uniform loan scheme?

A great example of an inclusive club is the Axe Creek Cricket Club. Axe Creek offers a fun and inclusive outdoor cricket program during the summer months, and an indoor program during winter, effectively operating year-round. In December 2017, Axe Creek offered a Multicultural Cricket Day, which saw 21 CALD participants come to play a game of cricket with existing members of the club. Following on from this, the club then held a Multicultural Winter Tournament in which 50 CALD participants attended. From these events, and from creating an inclusive, safe environment;Axe Creek Cricket Club now boasts an additional two (2) whole teams, increasing their membership numbers substantially. Without creating these opportunities,CALD communities may never have realised that the club was so welcoming. This is an excellent example of how a club can be active in their desire to be diverse and inclusive.

These are only a few of the strategies which may be available to help your club to be more culturally inclusive.  If your club would like to know more about how to be more inclusive, or about the barriers CALD community members may face, please contact Sports Focus for support on 5442 3101 or via email visit the Play by the Rules website

A photo from the Axe Creek Cricket Club’s Multicultural Winter Tournament

ABC – Participating in Sport is Becoming too Expensive

Department of Social Services – Participation in Sport by Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Women

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