The Romero Centre - Mercy Family Services

Community Shield Soccer Tournament

Established in 2000, the Romero Centre is a Mercy Family Services Multicultural Community Centre based in Dutton Park, Brisbane. It opened as a drop-in centre providing emergency relief to refugees with temporary protection visas (TPVs) who have spent lengthy periods in detention across Australia and the Pacific.

Under the stewardship of the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, the Romero Centre has grown to become an important settlement service for new refugees to Brisbane, as well as former TPV holders and their families. In addition to delivering social and practical support, it also provides community education by advocating for refugee rights at events, schools and organisations.

Romero Centre Mercy Family ServicesThe Romero Centre, the Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC), and the LUCRF Super Community Program supported the 2012 Community Shield Soccer Tournament, the largest multicultural football tournament in Australia. 

The tournament engages young people from different cultural backgrounds and identifies and supports local sporting talent. It also helps build better relationships between local youth and law-enforcement agencies. 

The 2012 Community Shield Football Tournament engaged 1,120 players from over 50 different cultural backgrounds representing communities across Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Toowoomba. With the support of the LUCRF Super Community Program and Professional Footballers Australia, five bursaries were awarded to talented up-and-coming players for their development beyond the tournament. Recipients used these bursaries to pay for club fees, tournament fees and to purchase training gear. 

Participants and stakeholders alike spoke about the energy and atmosphere of the tournament as being competitive yet peaceful, passionate and vibrant. Players interviewed expressed how much fun the tournament was and how grateful they were that it got them active and helped take their minds off things. 

Ali’s story

Born in Tehran, Iran, to Afghani parents, Ali learnt to play soccer on the narrow concrete pavements of his neighbourhood. After immigrating to Australia with his mother, brothers and sisters, he remembers feeling lonely, not knowing a word of English.

I wanted to play soccer but I did not know anyone to play with.

Things began to change when Ali enrolled at a state high school with a good soccer program. He started to feel at home playing the game he loved with new friends. 

Ali was awarded a bursary in the 2012 Community Shield Football Tournament which has given this budding soccer star a real boost.

Now I don’t have to worry about boots and other equipment. I can concentrate on my game.

 

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