No hurdle too high for Kuiy

Ethiopian born-Kuiy Jiath hardly spoke a word of English when he enrolled in an Australian school at the age of 11.

Like any other child from a refugee or a multicultural background, Kuiy struggled to adapt to a new culture and experienced bullying in school.

“When I was 11 or 12 my English was not good,” he said.

“When someone said something to me I thought he said something bad, I had a few little fights but that was because of my (wrong) understanding.”

In high school Kuiy experienced racist comments from other students but refused to “take them to heart”.

By then he was already engaged in sports and had developed some level of self-esteem and an understanding why some people could be racist.

“The people that were saying them (comments) probably need more education, (but) most people I’ve met were really nice to me and they understood where I came from and tried to support me as best as they could,” he said.

It was not until he was about 15 years old that things began to improve for Kuiy.

“Before my dad and mum could drive I had friends from school and football taking me to training and games which helped a lot,” Kuiy said.

Now 19 and playing for the Morwell Tigers, Kuiy dreams of becoming AFL’s multicultural community ambassador to encourage children from migrant and refugee backgrounds to engage in sports.

“Maybe they will listen to me because I’m from where they’re from,” he said.

Kuiy said he was the only multicultural player in his team and he has never played against someone from a similar background.

He believed children from multicultural backgrounds should be encouraged to participate in sports as this would enable them to create friendships and build confidence.

Kuiy is studying sports management at Federation Training in Morwell and is training kids through the Centre for Multicultural Youth.