Footy stars aim to kick goals for reconciliation - RMIT Newsroom

04 Oct 2010

AFL stars including Adam Goodes, Brett Kirk, Richard Tambling, Brad Sewell and Jonathan Mullens are flying to Sri Lanka today to work with communities on that troubled island on reconciliation issues.

They are taking part in a program co-organised by Global Reconciliation and the Global Cities Research Institute at RMIT University. As it develops, the project is also intended to involve Aboriginal communities in Victoria.

Global Reconciliation is an international network whose patrons include The Reverend Desmond Tutu, Sir William Deane, Aung San Suu Kyi, President Jose Ramos-Horta and Dr Lowitja O’Donaghue.

The Director of the Global Cities Research Institute, Professor Paul James, said the trip was the start of a long-term project to build community resilience, using sport to build initial bridges between communities.

“The core idea is that everyday practices can be used to foster reconciliation. The aim is not empty harmony or saying ‘sorry’, but doing practical things with a research base,” Professor James said.

The AFL players will spend 10 days touring the island, which is struggling to recover from civil war and the 2004 tsunami.

They will spend time in a children’s centre in the Sinhalese village of Seenigama, an Indigenous Vadda community in the mountains and a Muslim community on the southern coast. The players will receive information about Sri Lankan politics, ethnic and religious divisions, Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, and reconstruction work since the tsunami.

The foundation running the Seenigama centre has plans to develop a centre in the Tamil north, with the collaboration of cricketer Muttiah Muraliatharan, a Tamil.

Media opportunity
What: AFL stars preparing for the trip
When: Today, Monday, 4 October, 10.30am
Where: AFL House, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Melbourne

For interviews: Pippa Grange, AFL Players Association, 0402 140 996; Professor Paul James, (03) 9925 2500 or; orProfessor Paul Komesaroff, 0417 552 659.

For general media enquiries: RMIT University Communications, David Glanz, (03) 9925 2807 or 0438 547 723.

Victoria Baldwin