Young Community Citizen of the Year uses sport to break down barriers

Elmi Ali.
Elmi Ali.

A DESIRE to break down barriers and make others feel at ease has fuelled Elmi Ali his entire life.

Mr Ali was named Canning’s Young Community Citizen of the Year for his work in a multitude of community-orientated sports programs targeting people from Culturally and Linguistic Diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

After arriving in New Zealand with his family at a young age, he said programs similar to the ones he is involved with now helped him settle into his new home and made him want to help others coming from a similar situation.

“Community programs existed simply because the New Zealand government had a focus in humanitarian aid and resettlement,” he said.

“I saw councillors, local mayors and community organisations push to break barriers, right from the early modern era.

“These people were very unselfish, they actually were existing not for profit, but to up-skill and enhance the quality of life for all people.”

Mr Ali has been involved with many community sporting programs, including Street Football, Africa Down Under Cup, Harmony Week Football Festival and Common Goal.

Having witnessed New Zealand establish female-only swimming classes in the 90’s, he played a vital role in the introduction of a similar, initiative in the City of Canning in 2017.

Canning has one of the highest demographic of people from CALD backgrounds in WA and Mr Ali said sport was the perfect vehicle to help them ease into the Australian way of life.

“Sport allows parents to go to their local fields and park, get to know their neighbours, be involved in outdoor environments where there’s less stress and slowly, you start to see the fruits of it,” he said.

“Parents join clubs, kids have more friends having been more social and it also helps their education.”