Operating on a shoestring, the 50% fund has already put dozens of children into NZ sport. This worthwhile project project is currently being sponsored by Malcolm Pacific.
What has sport got to do with the health and positive resettlement or refugees?
"Plenty if the potential of this new initiative is realised" says RAS Community Manager Dr Arif Saeid.
Through a partnership with Malcolm Pacific and the help of Soccer 2, RAS is moving to develop a series ofprograms to open better access for former refugees into mainstream New Zealand sport.
"We are grateful to David Parker of Soccer 2 for all the assistance and encouragement" says Dr Saied.
"Sport is the universal language, and soccer is the universal sport. We welcome the potential and the hugely valuable input of former refugees and young players into the New Zealand game" says Soccer 2 CEO David Parker. Mr Parker and his Soccer 2 colleagues offered to help after RAS consultations with Auckland refugee communities revealed many barriers to linking into sporting clubs and community activities.
"We found that there were many barriers: financial, language, cultural. Whatever the reasons the connections just weren't being made" says Dr Saied
"Refugees from all countries and all languages love soccer, and many of our groups just need a place to play and some support"
The RAS/Malcolm Pacific-RISI program aims to provide for:
Better integration of young people from refugee backgrounds into the wider New Zealand society, reducing social isolation. Improved self-esteem and cultural pride for young people from refugee backgrounds. Increased positive image of refugees and how they contribute so much to New Zealand society. And.... not least.... perhaps an eventual further boost for New Zealand Soccer on the world stage.
The RASNZ Soccer Team in its debut at the International Cultural Day wins a place in the finals.