On Sunday, 16th of June, in glorious sunshine – Mansfield Soccer Club joined with Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR), the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and the Shepparton English Language Centre (SELC) to enjoy a first combined fun & friendly day of soccer, lovely food and an abundant afternoon tea!
Soccer was enjoyed as per normal in the morning – with much gusto from all Mansfield players! The bus from Shepparton arrived early (!) – so thankfully we could offer them a small section of the field at Lord’s Oval to enjoy their soccer skills and play amongst themselves. Soon the mini’s had finished their games – and the Shepparton team could add some more kids on their growing practice field.
Thanks to FOODWORKS for their immense support & generosity in supporting the BBQ for the day. The scent of the sausages & veggie burgers was enough to draw all the kids close! Erik (Mansfield Soccer coach) welcomed all soccer parents, RAR, the Shepparton group, and all those that had contributed to this fantastic day. Mary Dun (RAR) then offered an Acknowledgement of Country, and some background to the day and the interest in enabling our community to realise how close to home these refugees are (all residing in Shepparton). She also shared details of Youth 4 Refugees (Y4R) and the interest from teenagers in the area becoming actively involved with RAR.
Andrew from the Ethnic Council of Shepparton then spoke of the planning of the event, and thanked those involved. And offered his gratitude to Mansfield Soccer & RAR/Y4R for hosting the day. Laurie from Shepparton English Language Centre shared an enlightened few moments with all the audience. And outlined the players/students coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, DRC Congo, South Sudan, Burundi, Malaysia, Syria & Thailand. He talked about cultural diversity in the region, how the kids love to celebrate Easter & Christmas, and any other festival going around! He also explained the mystery of Halal food to the Mansfield soccer kids, and welcomed all to share in what was a feast fit for kings! He outlined how some of the students had only been in Australia for a few weeks, and the steep learning curve for some of them with limited English and sometimes a tough story to tell. He also then outlined how important fun & connection was for the students, and how days like this provide that & much more.
Shortly after it was feast time. And all Mansfield Soccer, RAR & Shepparton refugees & mentors enjoyed the feast of BBQ sausage, veggie burgers, homemade flatbread and coleslaw. Such a treat!
Following lunch, it was time to get serious about soccer. Derek, Rob, Kate, Erik & Andrew (Shepp) arranged the merged teams. And outlined the state of play to all the players. The boys from Shepparton showed a high level of skill, and soccer prowess to the delight of all watching. The cheering for both sides and support from the sidelines was a clear winner. The girls amongst much laughter and fun, managed to string some skilled plays together & enjoyed their games immensely.
After both sides played each other, and many were weary with a full day of soccer – it was afternoon tea time. Another feast to behold! Two lines of tables – abundant with afternoon tea generously supplied by RAR & Y4R delighted all players alike! A lovely casual and relaxed afternoon tea with RAR folks, soccer players, parents and Shepparton players and interpreters joining in the fun.
Mansfield Soccer would like to acknowledge FoodWorks for their generous support of the event. And to RAR for their welcome & support to the players and the soccer club alike. To Lily, Mahi & Alisha (Y4R) for their inspiration for the day. Thanks to the many volunteers that cooked, cleaned, swept, helped with soccer, packed up, cleaned up & cheered – THANK YOU!! Thanks especially to the players, girls & boys, that played their hearts out all day! That welcomed kids of all skill levels, and demonstrated that our town welcomes people of all cultures & backgrounds!
We look forward to this becoming an Annual event with RAR, Mansfield Soccer Club & Shepparton kids!
Mansfield Soccer Committee