Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the Federal Government have unveiled the Harmony through Football program, an initiative to celebrate the game's diversity and inclusivity.
Harmony through Football, the first formal FFA program linking directly the game's diverse player role models to the growing multicultural communities of Australia, includes more than 150 events for more than 17,000 participants in New South Wales and Victoria.
The program, organised and driven by FFA, Federal Government, Local Government and SBS, commenced last Sunday with a tournament coordinated by Melbourne Heart featuring Victoria Police, the Melbourne Chinese Soccer Association and the Australian Somali Football Association.
The initiative concludes with three marquee A-League matches in Melbourne and Sydney around Harmony Day (21 March) involving Melbourne Heart, Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.
"Football is the face of Australia and is a sport that truly reflects the cultural diversity of our nation," FFA chief executive David Gallop said.
"With 1.7 million participants, football is Australia’s most inclusive and accessible sport, one that bridges gender, age, linguistic, ethnic and religious divides.
"In 2012, FFA undertook a cultural audit of the A-League which showed that 87 per cent of players have an overseas ancestry and 68 per cent have one or more parent born overseas, both well above the national average.
"Football's broad fan base similarly reflects this diversity and our aim to help foster this diversity through the Harmony through Football program."
Senator Kate Lundy, federal minister for sport and multicultural affairs, said: "Sport is a powerful unifier which brings together people from diverse backgrounds. This initiative shows football living up to its status as the world game – a universal language and passion."
SBS is proud to be involved with the program with TWG's David Zdrilic on hand at today's launch in western Sydney."SBS has always championed the sports which contribute to building communities," SBS managing director Michael Ebeid.
"We are proud to be a partner in this great initiative which will help to inspire our younger generation of Australians from diverse backgrounds to connect with the champions of the game."
The Australian football community is mourning the loss of Australia youth international Dylan Tombides, who passed away on Friday 18 April after a long battle with cancer. He was aged 20.