09 Nov 2015

Football Federation Australia’s CEO David Gallop has announced the launch of the Football Cares initiative at Parliament House in Canberra today.

Football Cares will use football to assist the international humanitarian efforts in Europe and the integration of the 12,000 Syrian refugees into Australian society.

Inspired by the Football Cares campaign initiated in Europe earlier this year by Italian club AS Roma, the Australian iteration of Football Cares will ask members of the public to fund either the international or domestic element of the campaign:

International Campaign – Australia for UNHCR

Donations to the international campaign will fund UNHCR’s life-saving humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee crisis through Australia for UNHCR. UNHCR has already provided medicine, shelter, clothing, food assistance, safe drinking water and livelihood support to Syrians displaced by conflict. Contributions made through the Football Cares initiative will further support UNHCR’s humanitarian response to the single-largest refugee crisis in the world.

Domestic Campaign – Football United

Donations to the domestic campaign will fund Football United’s efforts to address social challenges encountered by newly arrived refugees.

A combination of community-based, “drop-in” play/training opportunities and school-based play/training opportunities carried out across the school calendar year are some of the special elements of the program, which will instantly engage refugees.

Youth leadership training, workshops and camps, underpinned by football-based youth mentoring opportunities will facilitate integration, and build youth capacity to further engage with society via football.

Through engagement with the program, humanitarian immigrants will forge links with their community and meet people with similar experiences who are capable of acting as mentors. This comprehensive program will facilitate their integration into their new life in Australia.

David Gallop said football is the only sport that is universally loved and understood by people everywhere.

“When a Syrian or any other refugee first arrives in Australia, football may well be the only familiar thing to them.

“The appeal of this game to all cultures is unique and for this reason football also has a vital role to play in the community at this time.

“We are proud to partner with Australia for UNHCR to provide critical support for refugees arriving in Europe in huge numbers at this time, and equally proud to partner with Football United who do amazing work to assist refugees settle into their new lives in Australia through the power of football.

“Now we ask our football community to show that football cares by donating,” he said.

“Through our work at Football United, we’ve seen years’ worth of examples of how football can dramatically change the lives of humanitarian immigrants, giving them greatly needed support in their settlement,” noted Dr. Anne Bunde-Birouste, Founding Director of Football United.

Naomi Steer, National Director of Australia for UNHCR, added: “In the five years since the start of the Syrian conflict, more than 4 million Syrians have become refugees, the vast majority being women and children fleeing conflict and violence with little more than the clothes on their back.

“In this year alone, hundreds of thousands of these refugees have risked everything to find help, hope and safety. Through supporting this appeal, Australians can take positive, lifesaving action and support refugees who have arrived in Europe, as well as those seeking refuge in countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.”