Football’s ability to unite communities was on full display when more than 100 Australian girls from a range of cultural backgrounds had a chance to play football with the Westfield Matildas, Australia’s national women’s team.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Football Federation Australia held grassroots football clinics for the girls to celebrate the importance of community, culture and gender inclusion in the MIKTA partnership.
The MIKTA 'mini-roos skills development' clinics were run with the Matildas at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and Auburn, Sydney. The events helped to inspire girls from local Mexican, Indonesian, Korean and Turkish diasporas, as well as the broader Australian community, to participate in sport, have a go and be part of a team, regardless of their background.
At the Canberra event, Matildas co-captain, Clare Polkinghorne and Lisa de Vanna spoke about how they got into playing football. "As soon as I got my first taste of football, I just fell in love with the game," said Clare. "We used to play together in the neighbourhood, South American style, and it's also about the friendships that I've made," Lisa added.
Arriving at the Sydney event in their bright blue Matildas' tracksuits, Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter were swarmed by girls and happily posed for photos and signed shirts. Both girls flew out to Rio two days later and Caitlin assured the fans: "We're not just going to the Olympics for the experience; we are going for a medal!"
MIKTA is a partnership that brings together Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia at annual forums to discuss and advance shared interests and values in the international community.