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How Futsal is helping to socially integrate immigrants and refugees in Brisbane

“Sport is a powerful tool used to strengthen communities; we all know that.”

For Milpera State High School, sport and physical activity may be one of the school’s most important mechanisms for successful integration of refugee pupils. Milpera is a special purpose state high school in Chelmer, Brisbane that teaches English Language across curriculum areas. It also provides settlement services to newly arrived migrants and refugees and has recently welcomed Futsal classes into their extra-curricular activity portfolio.

Huda Faraid, a teacher at Milpera State High School and a long-term follower of Futsal through her own sons’ endeavours, spoke to us about the impact Futsal can have on Milpera students:

“Australian culture revolves a lot around sport, to introduce the Australian culture to these new immigrants is very important.

“A lot of these kids would have never played club sports. For them sport may have been finding a barren part of land and running around.

“It’s good for their physical wellbeing and good for their mental wellbeing as well.”

Huda, who has taught at Milpera for over a decade and has taught over 1600 students, also discussed how rewarding it is to see her students succeed in all aspects of life:

“When I go to these (Futsal) competitions, I get to meet quite a large number of my former and present students, and that’s quite a rewarding thing to do.

“Lots of these kids speak other languages, some of them have never had formal schooling, some have come straight from refugee camps. We teach them in curriculum areas such as Maths, English, Science etc. as well as helping them to settle in a new country.

“When they come to our school, we see how they progress as a person and how they adapt in an Australian community. A lot of the kids come from trauma, they come from places at war or in unrest and some have never even been to school before.

“When you see them excel or grow it’s quite overwhelming, and when I saw some kids at the Queensland Invitational, it was quite rewarding. I was selfishly a little bit proud of myself.”

As an alien sport to refugee children, she shared the story of her students’ first taste of Futsal at school:

“Back in May, Byron Escobar came to our school to run a short workshop through AFA, and a lot of our boys thought it was just like soccer, so they took their shoes off as they did not have football boots. They all said, ‘why are we playing on concrete?’, it was something new for them and they loved it!

“In particular, I love Futsal, you know, the fast and the furious is so interesting and these students benefit a lot from Futsal. It is a very exciting kind of game, a lot of energy is burnt, it’s so much faster, energic and enjoyable.”

Huda’s affinity with Futsal may have been born through the sporting excellence of her children, but her love for the game has now extended to her professional life. The adoption of Futsal in Milpera State High School as a tool for social integration, as well as for improving physical and mental health, is a shining example of the positive human impact sport can have on lives.

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