The idea of the Hobart Friendship Cup is initiated by the Bhutanese Community who are the former refugees from Bhutan. The refugees were confined in the camp in Nepal and were not permitted to go out of the camp. So, the youths spent most of their time in recreational activities and playing sports such as soccer the most popular games among Bhutanese of all ages. The ex-players from Bhutan volunteered to teach professional soccer in the refugee camps and organised inter-camp championship to engage youths since 1994. Seeing the successful engagement of youths in soccer and other sports the supporting agencies sponsored most of the camp level events. The players struggled buying the proper gears and used to play bare feet. After the refugees opted the third country resettlement program proposed by the donor countries, they took the sporting skills to the resettled countries and continued their engagement in soccer. The transitional period in a new home country did not pose any challenges and continued pursuing their interest in sport. Gradually the community association collaborates and partners with different clubs and community organisations whereby championships such as Hobart Friendship Cup, Australian Bhutanese Interstate Soccer Championship gained momentum. Hobart Friendship Cup (HFC) is an ongoing Multicultural Soccer Championship that commenced since 2014. The first competition was participated by a fewer teams, but the subsequent competitions were actively participated by teams representing diverse community. So, this is the 6th Championship that the Bhutanese community association is hosting engaging eight and three teams respectively in the male and female categories.
Upcoming championship was postponed in March 2020 after the outbreak of the pandemic. There were around 15 teams registered for the competition in male and female categories but some of the teams from mainland have withdrawn owing to COVID-19 protocols. Now, we have 3 women teams and 10 males’ team from diverse community across Tasmania. As a measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19, the competition is happening over 3 days instead of 2 full days which means that less people gathering. We still follow the COVID safe practice in the ground like maintaining social distance and hand sanitising by players each time they enter the ground. The final will be played in KGV on 11 October that will be attended by different guests representing different organisation. The prize distribution will take place at 4 pm from Hon Elise Archer and the event concludes at 04:50 pm formally. I had passion for soccer since my childhood, and I used to represent school team in the inter school soccer competition in Bhutan. I continued playing soccer in the camp in different level of competition and at the same time supporting young generation who were involved in the same sport. There were potential Socceroos in the community, but they could not access the opportunity and get exposed. So, I volunteered to coordinate them with different local clubs and organised competition at the community level to motivate them to play soccer. Gradually, we were able to step up in promoting the sport in the community level and started as team playing from different clubs to gain professional skills and participate in the professional championship. Soccer is identified as one of the best sports for Bhutanese youths to engage and keep them away from the influence of alcohol and other drugs related health risks. Some of the benefits are; • The event will develop a sense of healthy competition amongst community youths, so that they are encouraged in future to take part in games and sports at more competitive levels.
Engagement of youths in productive activities to promote social participation/inclusion and healthy living to end feelings of social isolation
• Promote the sense of mateship and strengthen participation and networking amongst culturally diverse youths from wider Australian communities.
• Promotes inter-cultural and understanding, interpersonal communication within and between groups to exchange stories of resilience and success.
• To recognise and value the cultural diversity, foster and promote the Multicultural Tasmania.
• Provides Bhutanese Community of Southern Tasmania Inc. (BCAST) to build relationship and partnership with local service providers and sporting clubs on an ongoing basis.
• To encourage our players to embrace competitions, that would promote individual and social development.
• To facilitate the development of positive relationship of players with friends and public that would expand socialization skills We raise fund through processes like screening movies, running footstall, sporting grants and philanthropist. On alternate years we are also supported by Tasmanian government funding depending upon how big our project is.
The Bhutanese Community Association of Southern Tasmania Inc. is always grateful to Hon Anna Reynolds the mayor of Hobart City Council who had played a significant role in connecting us with different relevant organisation like Football Federation Tasmania, local clubs and local politicians for supports. Our event is always being supported by Hobart City Council providing grounds and other logistics.
For any further queries please contact Bhim Neupane on 0452 125 886