Empowering The Afghan Women’s Football Team
Just over a year ago the Afghan Women’s Football team were fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of Kabul. 12 months later and now calling Melbourne home the Afghan Women’s Football team reached an important milestone in their journey, with the completion of a ten-week training program designed to build their confidence and help each of them acquire key skills to support their pathways to employment in Victoria.
How did the Transition Program come about?
One Training has forged a strong relationship with Asuria, and it was at a Melbourne Victory, Victory in Business event, where Asuria invited One Training Directors, Chris Lawrence and Leon Keir. At this event the idea was formed after hearing the remarkable life story of one of the girls from Afghanistan’s team, where she shared the challenges they faced in getting to Australia.
This is where the discussion started about how One Training can assist the girls in adjusting, integrating, discovering, and enhancing their skills in order to obtain better employment opportunities in a new country where language has become a challenge for them. This opportunity for One Training to step in seemed logical given its strong relationships to sporting organisations, athletes and its partnership with Asuria, and so the transition program was created.
What is the Transition Program all about?
The ten week program was about equipping the women with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to transition from their home country into the Australian workforce. It encompassed topics such as: goal setting, personal discovery and transferable skills, exploring the Australian labour market, preparing for job seeking, building a resume and a cover letter, effective communication, and career pathway planning. As a result of participating in the program, the women received a Chromebook to assist with the learning and development of their digital skills; the first two sessions of the program were dedicated to helping them navigate and understand how to use their Chromebooks and a number of the Google Suite applications, such as: Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.
“We should follow our goals and our aims. It will take time, but one day we will catch it. And to not dream our lives, just live our dreams.”
Commencing the program
The first day of the program saw 15 of the Afghan Women’s Football team eagerly awaiting the commencement of the program at Asuria’s Bourke Street office. Having not facilitated to a group of people such as this, the language barrier instantly presented itself with varying levels of English proficiency among the group. Luckily, with the help of an interpreter, that barrier was quickly overcome and an adjustment of facilitating content in smaller sections became necessary. Enthusiasm sat in the air as the women, their Chromebooks, boxes, and cords mixed in with the Asuria and One Training team’s to commence the program.
One of the most notable activities from the day, the desert island survival ice breaker, had the women ordering steps of survival as though they had been stranded on a desert island. It was humbling to hear the journey these women had shared in conversations with each other as they reflected and used their lived experience to organise their survival steps as part of the activity. By the end of the first day, the women had set up their Chromebooks, learned how to navigate them and access their Gmail accounts as well as join the Google Classroom that was set up for the program showing the eagerness of these women to learn.
The Transition Program journey was a roller coaster; the experience was challenging, but the entire process was enjoyable and memorable. It’s inspiring to see the girls’ growth, efforts, and eagerness to learn and improve. Being an Afghan refugee, on the other hand, has undoubtedly made them resilient enough to face any challenges that come their way.
Over the ten-week program the girls’ shared their experiences with their facilitator, Renee Targett, and together they worked to build their self-confidence, develop clarity around their career aspirations, and progress their language skills through engaging activities relevant to the Austalian workforce. One of the key outcomes of the program was each of the girls creating an updated Resume which each of them workshopped to match their individual skills and circumstances.
In partnership with Melbourne Victory and Asuria, the girls were invited to a Graduation ceremony held inside the AAMI Park Theatrette. A number of employers and other stakeholders were invited to celebrate the success of the program and the girls’ growth over the ten weeks. The ceremony showcased the wonderful journey that these girls had embarked on throughout the ten weeks to display their confidence and eagerness to enter the Australian workforce. Ten of the girls graduate, receiving framed certificates for completing the ten-week program and it truly was fulfilling to see their joy and excitement at the possibilities to come from the program.
All attending employers had the opportunity to engage and interact with the girls during numerous times throughout the ceremony. Many positive conversations and potential career pathways opened up for the girls as a result of this and it demonstrated the support and willingness to help by all stakeholders that made the program and the graduation ceremony a success.
One Training, in partnership with Asuria, are hopeful to commence another round of the Transition Program after the success with the Afghan Women’s Football team. So far, one of the participants has been placed into work with one of the employers that attending the graduation ceremony. Several others are at the beginning stages of job processes; an exciting outcome for these women who have shown an abundance of resilience and grit to get to where they are today. This program proved to be extremely beneficial for all stakeholders involved and it was through the help of the community around these women that this program was a success. We continue to support and connect with the women on their journey into work post completion of the program, striving to see that all of the women be placed into work.