Golf pursues its untapped market

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Sabrin Nyawela is from Sudan, where years of cruel civil war have devastated a country that is now split into two. She is not a golf person in the least. Not yet, but her appointment as an incentive officer from Golf Australia for admission is significant.

Because for the very first time, golf is chasing potential players from the immigrant communities, starting in Melbourne but continuing onto the course, nationally.

The time has come because research in 2018 showed that there was a craving for the game as long as the communities felt they were welcomed into a club.

That is where Nyawela, 20, fits into the picture. What Golf Australia wanted was someone with experience in dealing with the problems of immigrant communities, not necessarily a golfer.

As a soccer player, Nyawela grew up with the confrontation of the language barrier and the curse of racism, made her way into her adopted country and flourished in sport. She has worked within AFL Victoria & # 39; s All Nations program & # 39; s, coaching and game, and still plays the state competition at North Melbourne.

The Australian football team soon joined the large Sudanese community in Melbourne, with Majak Daw (North Melbourne, as a neighbor of Nyawela in Wyndham Vale in western Melbourne) and Aliir Aliir (Sydney) as the standouts. Golf is just catching up.

So when Nyawela received an e-mail from Chyloe Kurdas, Senior Female Manager at Golf Australia, late last year, suggesting she was applying for the job, she raised her eyebrows and proposed her university education at Victoria University to to take. "I was working in pre-school and after-school care at that time," she said. "It was a huge change. I had no idea whether I wanted to apply or not. I have never worked in a full-time office before. But I just finished the jump. & # 39; & # 39;

Christian Hamilton, Inclusion Senior Manager of Golf Australia, said the investigation had driven the appointment. "We always knew there was a big chance when you look at how diverse Australia is," he said. "I mean, 51 percent of our population was born abroad or migrated to Australia. What we wanted to know was whether there was a sense of golf in the first place. & # 39; & # 39;

Hamilton said there were two aspects of the investigation that were remarkable. First, many immigrants believed that it was not possible for them to play golf "based on the experience they had in their native country." Second, if the opportunity was available, large numbers might participate.

"We hadn't been in that room before," Hamilton said. "The very best thing was that they said that if they felt welcome in a club, it would not be one or two people who would come to the game. They felt that their entire community would come into the sport.

"What we were looking for with Sabrin is someone who has experience working with those communities and understands what those barriers are. The other cool thing about Sabrin's skill set is that she is a non-golfer. Have someone who can place that non-golfer lens above everything we do is fantastic. & # 39; & # 39;

Nyawela will conduct clinics in the communities in collaboration with RecLink Australia and local government agencies. Hamilton said that with Victoria actually running a trial in this area, it was hoped that the & # 39; s programs would eventually become national.

As for Nyawela, she learns the nuances of the game and has done nothing more than grow up a few hits of mini golf. "On the outside, like a non-golfer, many people think of golf as an elite, that it's only for old, retired people who are rich," she said.

"But my first day at the office, everyone was so hospitable. Even to Adelaide for the Women & # 39; s (Australian) Open, everyone was friendly and hospitable. If we can get that side of the story out, we can change the perception

"It's about developing community connections. I feel that there is a big focus on the elite, the high-performance side of things. We want to take it to a local level and find future participants in the game. & # 39; & # 39;

Her personal story is fascinating. She was born in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and her father Othown and mother Ragena Nykeuy fled to South Sudan when the war was split, but the problems continued and by the time she was two, the family was a refugee to Egypt moved. When she was five, their request to come to Australia was granted and they lived in Noble Park, then Warrnambool, and then moved back to Melbourne to settle in Wyndham Vale.

Nyawela had to pick up the language because she didn't have English when she arrived. "I feel it was much easier because I was younger," she said. "I went to an English-language school and picked it up fairly quickly.

"My tribe is Shilluk, also known as Chollo, it is the third largest tribe in Sudan. I learned Arabic when I also came to Australia. Father and mother speak Arabic and also my cousins ​​who came to Australia and I can still Speak Arabic. "

Racism was there from the beginning. "It was fine at school, but outside school, on the street, people threw away racist comments. I was young. I didn't know what was going on – it was the N word and other things – you could see when they were rude I was lucky enough to go with some of my cousins ​​and they were also at Noble Park school, so I had family in the area.

"There wasn't much you could do. You had to ignore it. But there were many curious people when I came: & # 39; Where are you from? Tell me about this, tell me about it & # 39; touch my hair! & # 39; & # 39;

It was instructive that she found comfort in her new country through sport, in particular by playing soccer at Wyndham Vale, where her brother played. "There was an oval across the street from my house, I was going to look at my brother," she said. "One of the coaches asked me if I wanted to play and I said & # 39; yes & # 39; I went to the training. Fortunately they had a girls' team. We trained at the back of the oval. The boys had the headroom, but always made us feel welcome. & # 39; & # 39;

That experience has convinced her that sport is a great tool for integration and integration. "Play footy, people accept you for whoever you are," she said. "The minute you step onto a football field, no one cares. Being able to get people who have never played footy before to jump in and realize that you can be united by your differences. & # 39; & # 39;

She believes it can be the same way in golf, although there is a journey to travel. "I don't think I've met a Sudanese golfer right now!" She said. "But golf is definitely going in the right direction, just being open to learn about it and understanding some participation barriers. I don't see why golf cannot be a multicultural sport.

"The first year is getting to know, understanding and taking risks. We are at a perfect time when it is right to take some risks. We are so early. It is the first day. Even Christian said & # 39; it's all new & # 39; take risks & learn from them and go in a better direction, really. & # 39; & # 39;

First published in the Golf Vic magazine.

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