On Thursday 16th November, the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education hosted the 'Fair Play: Exploring the Interaction between Sport, Social Justice and Human Rights Event for Schools' at Santa Sabina College, Strathfield. This event saw 250 students from Years 8 ,9 ,10 and 11 from a range of EREA (Edmund Rice Education Australia) and other partner schools gathered to explore the ways in which sport, social justice and human rights are connected. Read feedbacks from MacKillop Catholic College, St Pius X College Chatswood, Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College and Santa Sabina College. Former Australian Football Captain, lawyer, broadcaster and social justice advocate Craig Foster AM got the day underway as he shared some of his experiences. He reminded us of the fact that we all have power that we can use to act for justice.
He spoke in particular of his experience in helping to secure the freedom of Hakeem Al-Araibi, a Bahraini soccer player who was held in detention in Thailand. During his presentation he focused on the importance of international law and human rights law in such challenging circumstances. Students embraced the opportunity to ask Craig questions and meet him during recess for photos and conversation.
The following session utilised personal presentations and videos to give a broader sense of the complex interplay between social justice issues and sport. Students had the chance to listen to a mixture of speakers from a range of different backgrounds, including:
Zali Steggall OAM (Winter Olympian & Politician), (by video)
Zaki Haidari (Refugee Advocate and Runner),
Sione ‘Ofa Finefeuiaki (Rugby League & Sione's Foundation),
Andreina Lugo (House of Welcome Work and Welcome Project Officer) and Ambassador for the NGO called Fundahe that runs a Football Program called (“Fulfilling a Dream”) in Venezuela,
‘Alopi Latukefu (ERC Director of the Edmund Rice Centre)
and Scott Goddard (Founder of RREPP - Fair Trade Sporting Equipment) (by video)
Following these presentations, students were given the opportunity to ask questions of presenters, posing thoughtful questions as they wrestled with how they could make a difference in their own communities.
Throughout the day the, the theme of HOPE was highlighted. Hope inspires us to believe in the possibility that things can change or improve. The significance of Hope was celebrated as the speakers incorporated this theme into their presentations, there were hopeful moments of sporting history, quotes about hope, and the Ulysses butterfly (a significant symbol of hope) displayed as decorations in the hall for the duration of the day.
The afternoon session saw groups of students engaging in reflection and sharing their insights from the day. With the support of volunteer leaders, students engaged in mind-mapping exercises to consider possible responses when they return to their school communities. The buzz around the room was a clear sign that students had been strongly engaged. Students demonstrated a passion for what they had learnt and an obvious drive to bring this commitment to social justice back to their peers.
Following the event, schools involved will be receiving a kit of resources to support their ongoing learning and commitment to social justice within sport and other areas across their school communities.
A big thank you to everyone at the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education and the volunteers from outside our organisation. We could not have had this event, if it was not for the invaluable assistance of all these wonderful people in the preparation, as well as everything they did on the day to help it run smoothly.
The idea for this Fair Play: Exploring the Interaction between Sport, Social Justice and Human Rights Event for Schools was a collaboration between Marisa Brattoni- Education Officer at the Edmund Rice Centre and Gillian Daley – Director of Identity at St Patrick's College Strathfield (on sabbatical) who facilitated the development of the program and was our MC for the day.
Everyone involved and those who participated on the day, were very pleased to see this idea become a successful reality.