Culture Kicks on the pitch
Beginning eight years ago as a Council initiative, Culture Kicks has become a truly international event with teams representing West Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Burma, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates among others.
Tournament Director Tony Morrison, has been playing football for 47 years. He organises 5-a-side games three nights a week at the Te Whea football grounds.
“These are very popular,” he says, “and the teams come from all seven continents, from Asia, Africa and Europe to the Pacific, there’s P-town, Saudi Arabia, several Irish teams, Poms, you name it.” Tony believes that migrants and refugees in particular can find joining an established football club daunting, and given that they often struggle to pay membership fees, the five-a-side game is ideal.
Culture Kicks also encompasses a disabled team and a street team for the homeless. The Culture Kicks Homeless team represented New Zealand at the Homeless World Cup in 2008 and 2010 and hope to do so again this year.
“People from all over the world, from all different backgrounds come together through their love of football, it is all-inclusive, giving everyone the opportunity to play, crossing the language and culture divide, creating an environment for people to be a part of the wider community,” says Tony. “In the end we are all footballers.”
Culture Kicks takes place at Wakefield Park on 15 March and is a fantastic occasion for players and spectators alike. Twenty teams on 10 pitches will kick off at 9am, so there’ll be plenty of action and sporting starts to cheer on. The grand finals start at 3pm.
The winners of Culture Kicks will represent Wellington at the annual New Zealand Communities Football Cup a competition backed by the New Zealand Police and the Ethnic Council with the aim of promoting integration and positive community engagement amongst different communities.