Sporting Acumen of Refugees

Some years ago, I was at a local mechanic’s workshop and having discussion with him about the AFL.

It is a rare event for me to discuss such a topic, however, the mechanic was making the point that he did not believe there was adequate depth of talent to have 18 teams.  I countered this by stating that I felt we, meaning Australia, would have to gain a range of sporting talent from the refugees coming to Australia seeking asylum.  With taking in refugees from Somali, the Sudan and eastern African countries, there has to be a reasonable chance that we would gain individuals with serious athletic abilities: middle and long distance runners, soccer players, etc.

There were two other men there on the fringes of this discussion who decided to jump in at that point.  “Yeah, we could use them for target practise,” one of them added and another remarked, “We could use them as the ball!”

I was dumbfounded.  What had any refugee ever done to either of these men to deserve such hostile condemnation?  Refugees had certainly not taken their jobs, or engaged licentiously with their wives or partners.  As far as I could ascertain neither of them had been robbed or directly physically threatened by a refugee.  I would be severely surprised if they had, given the number of refugees in our community.

Some weeks ago, I saw a story on television about a young Sudanese boy seeking a rookie draft placement to an AFL team.  He is 2 metres in height and his ability to jump from a standing position is seriously impressive.  He has been picked up by the Essendon Football Club to play ruck.  I think he would make a pretty mean high jumper, just quietly too.

I note too, that Usman Tariq Khawaja is a Pakistani-born Australian cricketer too.

The pressure to say, “I told you so,” is blowing my teeth out.


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