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Member Update: 'Changing the Score' An Australia-Brazil Sport for Reconciliation Journey

A group of Australian AFL stars and community sport professionals recently returned from Brazil where they attended a series of workshops, community conversations and sport-for-development activities in favela communities as part of the action research project “Changing the Score” organised by RMIT University, Bluestone Edge and Global Reconciliation.  

Nine Richmond football players, along with sport-for-development professionals and indigenous members of the Korin Gamadji Institute took part in ‘Changing the Score’, along with the project organisers Dr Pippa Grange of Bluestone Edge and Dr Elizabeth Kath of RMIT University.

Dr Elizabeth Kath, RMIT Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow with the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies and co-director of Global Reconciliation, said the trip was the next step in a series of reconciliation journeys focused on building community resilience and social inclusion using sport and other everyday practices.

“The core idea of these journeys is for participants from very different parts of the world, who are nevertheless facing similar community challenges, to explore how everyday practices such as sport can become vehicles for reconciliation and social inclusion,” Dr Kath said.

“This visit is a learning exchange allowing Australian and Brazilian participants to share knowledge and experiences that we hope will inform and enrich their future work in communities.”

The AFL players spent eight days in Rio de Janeiro, hosted by Global Reconciliation’s local partner, Brazilian NGO, IBISS (Brazilian Institute forInnovations in Social Health).

The project began with an official welcome ceremony where the five Australian Indigenous participants gave a talk and performance with music and dance, followed by a reciprocal presentation by the local Brazilian community.

The itinerary also included workshops, community discussions, football clinics, and visits to local projects in some of Rio de Janeiro’s most socially excluded favela communities including, Vila Cruceiro, Vila Holanda, Vila Alianca, Vila Nova and Jardim Gramacho.

Rio de Janeiro is preparing to host the world’s biggest sporting events – the FIFA World Cup (2014) and Summer Olympics (2016).

During their visit, participants also learned about Brazil’s politics, social and cultural divisions and visited IBISS’ community soccer projects.

Dr Pippa Grange, Director of Bluestone Edge, said previous sport focused journeys had involved a mixture of players from Sydney, Hawthorn, Richmond, Carlton and Geelong.

This was the first time all the players have come from the same club.

The participating Richmond players were: Alex Rance, Daniel Jackson, David Astbury, Dylan Grimes, Jake King, Matthew Dea, Reece Conca, Shane Edwards and Steven Morris along with two young indigenous players from KGI’s Lagunta’s program, Derek Hayes and Darren Allen, KGI’s director Belinda Duarte and Rio Tinto’s Indigenous Programs Specialist, James Sebire.


Changing the Score was funded by RMIT, Bluestone Edge, Richmond Football Club, Karoon Gas, Rio Tinto, Costa Foundation and Drapac Group.         

The results of the research evaluation of the exchange will be analyzed and released in the coming months.

Global Reconciliation is an international network whose patrons include the Reverend Desmond Tutu, Sir William Deane, Aung San Suu Kyi, President Jose Ramos-Horta and Dr Lowitja O’Donaghue.

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