Belmont North/Redhead – From Gravel to Grass

In Afghanistan they play soccer on gravel surfaces but now the Afghani football team plays soccer on soft grass thanks to the generous nature of Belmont North/Redhead parish.

The team who formed last year under a funding grant became great friends and mentored a number of younger boys, teaching them the skills required to play one of most popular sports in Afghanistan. And we all know that Afghanistan’s national soccer team made history by beating India in the final of the South Asian Football Federation championship. So football has a very real place in the lives of the Afghan community as it binds the community together, gives young men the ability to build their self esteem and to build healthy relationships within their community so they stay within the community.

This year saw a crisis emerge for the team as they were unable to fund their registration with Jesmond Football Club to play in the AAM/6 Grade R competition. All the positive aspects of football could be lost to these young men who might turn away from building self worth and building stronger community ties. The connections with the wider Australian community would also be lost.

At the same time Belmont North/Redhead Parish was reconsidering the Welcome Refugees picnics held for several years for new refugees to Newcastle because the Welcome to Australia Committee had decided to begin monthly Welcome picnics.

At a meeting held at the parish with those concerned with the picnics, the issue of the Afghani football team plight was raised. Could the people of the parish raise the funds needed to assist? Was this good stewardship? Would it build the Kingdom of God? Would it build community? The questions were raised at a parish meeting, and the answers given, yes it would build the kingdom, it was good stewardship and yes it would build community between the Afghan community and the wider Newcastle community.

The ever-generous Parish of Belmont North/Redhead agreed to underwrite the Afghani football team knowing full well that most were practising Muslims, that it would not build parish numbers on a Sunday. But it would build relationships, understanding, respect and community and in doing so build the Kingdom of God.

These relationships were already forming with some of the young wives of the players who had already received baby bundles and other baby furniture items given in conjunction with Belmont parish. Some of the wives come to the home games, enabling our parishioners who come to the games to further build friendships with the whole family.

You may not realize that the cricket season will start later in the year and the Afghani cricketers will also need sponsoring for their registration fees. Although a different group of young people to the soccer players, the need and benefits are the same community building within their cultural group as well as those important ties to our own Australian community that they so much want to be a part of. Perhaps your parish or a partnership of parishes or groups might like to sponsor the Afghani cricketers for the 2015 season.

If you or your parish would like to be part of this exciting adventure into the world of sponsorship please contact Archdeacon Wendy Dubojski on 4945 5860 or belmontnthredhead@bigpond.com.