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Having a Voice and a Sense of Belonging in a Soccer Club with Ramon Spaaij

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It’s a soccer team made up almost entirely of new arrivals and refugees to Australia. So how do the young players construct their identity and sense of belonging? And what about the young women facing narrow and discriminatory views of femininity at the club? How do they resist?

Episode 38: Overview

In this episode, we focus on a soccer team in the western suburbs of Melbourne Australia. A team made up almost entirely of new arrivals and refugees from the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia).

Our guest (Ramon Spaaij) studied this team, its players and families over a 3 year period. And we’ll be unpacking his key discoveries.

In particular, how the players’ construct their identities, their sense of place, and belonging to their new country through soccer and sport more generally.

Also how the young women are resisting narrow and discriminatory views of femininity AND creating their own sports spaces.

Plus how sports clubs are serving their entire communities using strengths or assets-based approaches to drive change.

CLICK PLAY to listen to Ramon Spaaij

Episode Guest

Photo of Ramon Spaaij - Having a voice and sense of community in a soccer club

Photo supplied: Ramon Spaaij

  • Ramon Spaaij is an Associate Professor  Sociologist in the College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University (in Melbourne, Australia).
  • He is also Professorial Chair in Sociology of Sport at the University of Amsterdam (in the Netherlands).

Episode 38 – Quick Guide

  • Ramon’s emerging interest in soccer and sport
  • The local soccer club on Ramon’s doorstep
  • The challenges of running a local soccer club – for migrants & refugees
  • Why migrants & refugees want to be involved in a soccer club
  • The trans-national identities of the soccer players
  • The generational differences in attitudes towards sport (parents and children)
  • The gendered nature of sport
  • Developing social and cultural capital through sport
  • How playing sport challenges ideas about ‘femininity’ (Bodily capital and gender)
  • Bridging capital: facing exclusion and discrimination in sporting clubs
  • How sports clubs are using strengths and asset-based approaches to drive change
  • The Lightning Round: cultural mobility and sport, cultural differences, participation, gender in sport, inclusion, one way versus two way processes to change
  • The impact on Ramon – of researching his local soccer club (realisations of white privilege)


Having a Voice and Sense of Belonging in a Soccer Club – Episode Links

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