Labor Government supports Croatian Soccer Tournament

The Melbourne Knights Football Club would like to proudly declare that The Hon. Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations was on hand on Friday 30th August at Knights Stadium to present the club with a $42,000 government grant.

The grant, which falls under the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Diversity and Social Cohesion Program was rewarded for the hosting of the 39th Annual Australia & New Zealand Croatian Soccer Tournament.

The Croatian Soccer Tournament of Australia & New Zealand is the largest and oldest football tournament in Australia, having been hosted in every state and territory except for the Northern Territory. It holds the honour of being the oldest national soccer competition still running in Australia.

Although the tournament hosts clubs from all over Australia of Croatian heritage, it’s the players that play that make the game.

As economic and political migrants, Croats were and are acutely aware of the difficulties in adjusting to a new life as a migrant in new surrounds and have done their best to keep their heritage and customs whilst immensely contributing to Australian life especially in the sporting arena.

The Croatian community of Australia has provided no less than six Australian Socceroo captains, whilst there are other notable tales of cohesion with other historically marginalised communities. Probably one of the most famous is that of Adelaide Croatia (now Raiders) providing a sporting home to people like Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins – who played alongside Gordon Briscoe and John Kundereri Moriarty. Incidentally the latter was the first Indigenous Australian to be selected to play for the Australian national team.

What Croatians, like many other migrants have intimately understood and grasped, was and is the feeling of being on the fringes of society as new migrants and as part of this, clubs like ours have always offered a place to call home for players and fans of all nationalities and walks of life.

As a club and as a community we all feel a responsibility to incorporate and encourage new Australians from all backgrounds in integrating and enriching the sporting, cultural and political life of this great land.

The tournament has hosted over 100 clubs in the past 40 years together with players of all nationalities and religious beliefs competing. On our conservative estimate, the participating players in this years tournament will come from over 50 backgrounds – a truly global representation of the multicultural fabric of our society.

Councillor for Moonee Valley, John Sipek was instrumental in campaigning for the grant, as was President of the Australian Croatian Association of Melbourne, Mr. Ante Juric. Both men were ecstatic when the news filtered through that the grant had been approved.

Tournament Co-Ordinator Katarina Jusup put together the submission which covered the many facets of the tournament’s possible streams of integration of the football-loving community of Victoria.

The grant for $42,000 was awarded after months of preparatory work in engaging, consulting and liasing with local communities, clubs and the Federal Government. Throughout the Grant Application process invaluable support was given by John Sipek, Ante Juric and Knights President Ange Cimera.

A grant of this proportion in the current economic climate comes as a god-send especially with the difficulties in procuring private sponsorships and donations means that the 39th Annual Australia & New Zealand Croatian Soccer Tournament will be able to deliver a tournament that an event of this magnitude deserves.

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