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The Hillmen: A Soccer Fable (1995)

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clip Soccer assimilation education content clip 2, 3

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Club secretary and under-16 manager Stan Stokes talks about the process of assimilation of all the team members of the soccer club. The boys come from Greek, Turkish and Vietnamese backgrounds.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows the coach and two players from the under-16 Clifton Hill United soccer team offering their perspectives on cultural assimilation of the different nationalities in the team. One of the boys is Greek–Australian and explains why he thinks boys who are of the same cultural backgrounds stick together.

Educational value points

  • The clip features an interview with two young soccer players from Clifton Hill United, a soccer club located in the northern suburbs of Melbourne that includes players from Greek, Turkish and Vietnamese backgrounds. In the past, the club was made up of predominantly Greek–Australian members. However, it opened its doors to the broader community in an attempt to expand declining numbers.
  • The perceptions of the coach and two members of the team about cultural assimilation are portrayed in the clip. The coach and the two teenage boys offer similar views, saying that despite being part of one team the different ethnic groups do not usually socialise. This tendency extends into other aspects of their lives, reflecting broader cultural patterns. An example of a broader pattern is the tendency of people of the same national origin or similar socioeconomic background to gravitate to the same suburb within a city.
  • The clip raises complex issues about the assimilation–acculturation paradigm within soccer, as well as its implications in the broader context of a multicultural society. The paradigm suggests that ethnic groups participating in soccer will begin to adopt the values and behaviours of mainstream Australian culture. Cultural assimilation in sport is a contentious issue, with its advantages, disadvantages and implications being a source of continued debate. Until recently there has been a belief that contact between ethnic groups, both in a sporting context and more broadly, helps to lessen and amalgamate differences. Lately, however, there have been suggestions that such contact can also heighten distinctions and boundaries.
  • Many Australian soccer players are of southern European background. In the 1950s, migrants from southern Europe established community-based soccer clubs, held key administrative positions in the clubs, and encouraged spectator support at games. In the past, Asian nationalities have been excluded from the sport and subjected to racism at both local and international levels. It has only been recently that the Vietnamese community has begun to participate.
  • The clip showcases the work of Steve Thomas, an Australian documentary filmmaker. Thomas has written, directed and produced many other successful Australian documentaries, including Black Man’s Houses (1992), Harold (1995), Errand of Mercy (1998), Least Said, Soonest Mended (1999), which won a United Nations Association Media Peace Award in 2000, Family Foibles (2001) and Welcome to Woomera (2004). The Hillmen: A Soccer Fable was the winner of the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Television Documentary in 1996, and was inspired by Thomas’s son Danny being a member of Clifton Hill United.

This clip starts approximately 39 minutes into the documentary.

Stan Stokes is being interviewed in a club office.
Stan Stokes, Clifton Hill United club secretary They don’t assimilate, the different nationalities don’t assimilate at all. They may. Of course I don’t know when they’re out, of course, who they go out with. But I suppose the Turkish kids will go out with one another and the Vietnamese kids all hang out together. The Greek kids, well, some of them might hang around probably – but mainly, probably with Greeks anyhow. Yeah, so.

Two players from the team are being interviewed on a vacant playing field.
Boy 1 It seems like Sam doesn’t want to play if Macit’s not there and Macit doesn’t want to play if Sam’s not there. They just – they really stick together, you know?
Filmmaker But that could be a friendship thing.
Boy 1 It’s a bit of both. They’ve become friends probably because of their culture.
Boy 2 They’re friends because they’re both Turks.
Boy 1 They can talk Turkish and…
Boy 2 Just say you go out and you see a Greek person. You speak to him in Greek, automatically becomes your friend. And that’s not because you’ve met him and you know his personality or you like him. It’s because he’s Greek and he’s automatically your friend. Any Greek and it’s the same, I think, with the Turks. You meet a Turk, automatically becomes someone that you know. And then the friendship forms later.
Boy 1 They can relate very easily. Like they can talk the…
Boy 2 Because they got the language.
Boy 1 …language.

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