Lucy is a second generation Australian and a television sports presenter for SBS. Lucy reflects on the challenges her parents faced when they arrived in Australia, and the benefits of football in bringing people from all different cultures.
“Growing up in Australia as the daughter of Croatian immigrants, I couldn’t be more grateful for their bold decision to come to this grand country we call home.
Soon after my father and mother were married, my father chose to set sail for Australia to work for a year to save money for his family. He boarded the ‘Angelina Lauro’ ship in the northeast Italian region of Trieste in the late 1960s and embarked on the 30-day trip to Sydney, an experience he looks back on fondly.
When he arrived, he didn’t speak a word of English but was helped by a Scotsman who he worked with at the Holden car factory. The Scotsman patiently spent time teaching him English using hand gestures.
My father started work on the second day he arrived in the country. He was crammed in a house with 16 other people and worked long hours. But he stuck with it knowing that this was an opportunity to provide a better life for his family.
When my mother finally arrived 18 months later, she too worked in a factory and the money she earned helped to pay for food so they could start saving to buy a home of their own.
Nine months later my mother gave birth to my brother, Ned, and my father purchased a block of land for $1000 in Canberra. He commuted back and forth to build their first home and they eventually moved to the nation’s capital shortly before the house was finished.
In 1989, my father started his own business building and selling his own homes. He started by purchasing just two blocks of land. He’s now one of the most respected builders in Canberra.
Not only was he an incredible provider for our family but he was a wonderful father and my mother is still to this day the strongest woman I know. She’s an enormous inspiration to me.
The story of my parent’s journey to Australia is so important to me because it has given my siblings and I so many opportunities in our life, but also a very special cultural heritage to hang on to.
Both my parents did an extraordinary job teaching us to embrace our Croatian heritage and values, all the while encouraging us to celebrate the life we have been afforded here in Australia and the beautiful people that come with it.
Since I was born, football has played an enormous role in my family’s life and I am not sure that I could picture a world without it, nor do I want to.
Not only does the game represent an opportunity for people of many cultural and diverse backgrounds to come together, but it’s an integral part of the fabric that binds us together as Croatian Australians, it’s where we’ve been able to find common ground and our identities.
The game is not dependent on who you are, your race, age, religion or gender – it’s open to be loved and adored by everyone.
Football brings us together. When people feel isolated or aren’t exposed to other cultures, it breeds intolerance.
We should all come together, Australians from all different backgrounds, to acknowledge how lucky we are to call Australia home – there’s no place in the world like it.”