Fair Game: Pioneering multicultural women in footy

By Our Reporter

Saru Rana is being instrumental in promoting gender equality and shattering stereotypes, through Multicultural Communities of Australia (MCA), believes women can excel in their chosen field of sports

Indeed, the modern landscape of sport, within multicultural communities, has distanced itself from the historical sporting world which was traditionally regarded as a male space. It was presumed that only men possess physical characteristics suited to sport, especially football. Women were therefore excluded from participating in it because of various social and medical assumptions held about their unsuitability to the game of footy. This mentality has undergone change which has been influenced by Multicultural Communities of Australia (MCA) and SANFL encouraging multicultural women partaking in the game of footy encouraging a positive shift in the gender regime within CALD communities.

Multicultural Communities of Australia (MCA) develop and provide a platform, to support the diverse communities to integrate with the main stream Australian community through social and sporting activities. MCA organise and coordinate different sporting activities in collaboration with the peak sporting organisations like AFL, Cricket Australia (SACA), Football Federation SA, Netball SA etc. to mentor and empower other community groups with sporting services working collaboratively with many organisations and peak bodies.

Saru Rana, international fame social activist, director of MCA, founder SHAMSHIR and winner Governor’s Multicultural Award 2018, to promote footy and inspire women participation in Footy, took up a new role with SANFL as Multicultural Community Ambassador.

SANFL this year launched The Nations Cup as an initiative by to help multicultural communities achieve its goal of ensuring the game of football to be a sport for all Australians, with the state’s best multicultural communities coming together to compete under one banner.

Similarly, Director of Multicultural Communities of Australia, Deepak Bhardwaj who had been SANFL Multicultural Community Ambassador for last 5 years and the multicultural force behind the Nations Cup said this was a great example of how sport could bring communities together and connect multicultural communities to mainstream. Acknowledging Team India captain Saru Rana, as first ever female in a captaincy role at the inaugural Festival Cup championship, Deepak stated the SANFL Nations Cup was an unforgettable competition, that not only connected multicultural communities to mainstream, but also promoted gender equality within the world of sports.

Mr Bhardwaj mentioned—Worldwide, this is a pivotal moment for women’s sports. If you can see it, you can be it—In a nutshell, that’s why promoting women’s sports in the communities’ matters. It empowers girls and women of all ages.

Both Deepak Bhardwaj and Saru Rana have labelled SANFL Nations Cup Festival as the “best footy experience of their lives”, with the tournament to be seen expanding in the year 2020 due to popular demand.

They believe the roaring success of the inaugural SANFL Nations Cup Festival will force the competition to expand from 6 to many more teams for its second campaign, which kick off again in the year 2020.

The Nations Cup this year launched as an initiative by SANFL to help multicultural communities achieve its goal of ensuring the game of football to be a sport for all Australians, with the state’s best multicultural communities coming together to compete under one banner.

Team India captain Ms Rana, first ever female in a captaincy role at the inaugural Festival Cup championship, said it was an unforgettable competition, particularly with all teams being honoured with their respective gurnseys, both respectfully and professionally framed as a souvenir for all teams to cherish their participation in the tournament.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life as well, she said. I think the Nations Cup is a great example of bringing football to the communities, but also to bring the communities to each other. Hopefully, it just gets bigger and better, but for this year it’s just great to see the 16 teams come together.”

The competition bought together teams of diverse cultural backgrounds, including Indian, Afghanistan, Asian, Lebanon Vietnamese and Pakistani.

The teams were selected as the community representatives among various multicultural and community groups around South Australia that competed in a one-day tournament.

However, much work lies ahead. Mostly multicultural women aged 3 to 17 aren’t active in sports. This is due in part to what we call confidence gap within CALD women. Many women struggle to pursue opportunities with the same confidence as men, because they’re socialised by being rewarded for being good, instead of for being energetic, rambunctious, or even pushy. As a result, many girls learn to avoid taking risks and making mistakes. This is to their detriment, as many psychologists now believe that risk-taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building.

Saru Rana, also as a media journalist, see this drop in confidence coupled with the fact that women’s sports coverage in ethnic media isn’t as prevalent as it should be. Approaching it from a journalist’s perspective, Saru attests that she likely never would have gotten hooked on women’s sport without the power of media representation last year—with her media coverage and participation in milion2cricket initiative.

This year, being a part of the inaugural multicultural team of the SANFL Nations Cup Festival, Saru and with her role as a SANFL Multicultural Community ambassador, Saru feels humbled and sees this as an opportunity to embrace diversity within a mainstream game. She looks forward in supporting and boosting multicultural women participation in the game of footy.

Saru and Deepak are appreciative of SANFL, for not only communicating freedom for multicultural women to participate in footy but also excel as SANFL’s Multicultural Community Ambassadors.


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