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To celebrate Olympic Day (June 23) and World Refugee Day (June 20) The New Zealand Olympic Committee brought 300 young refugees together for a have a go sports day in Auckland.  

We caught up with 3x Olympic medallist Barbara Kendall who helped to run the event.

Q: What’s going on behind you right now?

A: So far we’ve got all the kids separated into different age groups wearing the Olympic tee shirts and they’re trying all the different sports. We’ve got boys and girls in different groups so some of them that are culturally from different backgrounds feel comfortable practising these different sports. So these kids are trying basketball, we’ve got badminton we’ve got karate, golf, hockey, football, lots of sports so it’s going to be an amazing day for these kids.

Q: What are you hoping to achieve here today?

A: The purpose of this day is about making the world a better place through sport. So this is a great example of where the IOC, funded through Olympic Solidarity, comes in and supports initiatives like this where we bring these kids in and get them to experience sports and the joys and the values of what sports can bring to these kids. It also helps them to make new friends and feel included in their community and society.

Q: Are the kids having a good time?

A: I just met a couple of the kids from Burma and one of them has been here for 5 years and he’s linked up with another kid that just arrived 3 months ago and can’t speak any English and they’ve just got huge big grins and their faces and they’re just giving it heaps. It’s so nice to see them happy because as a New Zealander that’s had a privileged background I can’t even imagine some of the difficulties that these kids have faced getting here so to see the smiles on their faces is fantastic.

Q: How’s the event going?

A:It’s going extremely well, I think the values of the NZOC, the Olympic movement and the refugee sector are really well aligned, it’s all about inclusion, participation, friendship and respect and that’s exactly what we’re seeing here today which is wonderful.

Barbara Kendall
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