Rugby league is more than just a hobby for kids like Isaac. It provides a sense of belonging, a team, friends and direction in life.
Like Isaac's coach Steve, you can help young refugees connect in their communities through activities such as sport. Encourage your local sports teams to help get young refugees participating or volunteer at a local PCYC, sporting club or other organisation in your community who works with refugee families.
Isaac's story - told by Steve his rugby league coach.
Isaac was seven when I met him—a shy kid who didn’t talk much. When I got him onto the football field, everything changed. He changed. He opened up and found his place.
I started the Blacktown PCYC Spartans Rugby League team eight years ago. Hundreds of kids have passed through but some stand out. One of them is Isaac. Born in a Ugandan refugee camp, Isaac was only three when his family arrived here in Australia as refugees. His parents fled the civil war in South Sudan in the late 80s.
He knew he was different. His Dad recalls him asking “why are we blacker than everyone else?”
He confided in me that he was bullied at school and didn’t have many friends. Since joining the club, he knows most of the community.
At 14, Isaac is an amazing talent with a bright future. I can’t help but grin when I talk about him. Seeing him blossom gives me so much joy. I love watching Isaac on the field. He excels, always giving 100 per cent.
He inspires confidence in his team mates, they play a lot better when he is on the field.
Isaac’s dream is to play rugby league professionally, and we all share that dream.
The club is very multicultural. It was borne out of my desire to help welcome refugee kids into our community. We found a way for them to be integrated instead of segregated.
Kids and families involvement in rugby league teams has also given an identity to the refugee community here in Western Sydney. I love seeing parents getting involved, like Isaac’s dad who is a trainee coach.
We all benefit from the rich cultural diversity in our community. I have tasted dishes that I never thought I would and met people I would never have had the opportunity to meet.
Knowing the hardship that these families have been through, drives me to help them succeed in their new home. My life has been enriched by helping to make their dreams a reality.
I encourage everyone to get involved with refugee kids. We can all help them feel welcome.
Earlier this year, I was considering retiring. One evening I was on the field with my wife when Isaac walked by. I said to her “This is why I do it. These are our boys and that is why I keep coming back”.