Police and students bond over love of football

Hundreds of students and police officers joined forces at Coogee Beach on Sunday, for a game of soccer.

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The event, now in its fifth year, aims to strengthen ties between New South Wales Police and international students.

A combined 200 police and international university and TAFE students from dozens of countries have enjoyed a few games of football at Coogee Beach in Sydney.

Chris Mackey, the Director of Study New South Wales, a key sponsor of multicultural events, says sport is a great unifier.

“We’re so lucky to have such a proactive police force in New South Wales. I think everyone understands sports. Football is the world game as Les Murray would have said.”

This particular day of games had one major goal, according to Inspector Glyn Baker of New South Wales Police.

“It’s about building trust. They need to know they can trust this uniform and that they are safe. It’s about breaking down those barriers.”

An eye opening day for students from some countries where the police are feared.

An array of students from countries including Nigeria, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia were in awe of local police officer’s friendly relationship with the community.

“Hardly see anything like this by the police at home. So big ups big ups big ups big ups to the NSW police department!”

“I am not gonna lie our team is really good and I am having so much fun with my boys over here.”

“They are lovely, enjoying with us playing with us.”

In 2009, racially-motivated attacks against Indian university students, mainly in Melbourne, prompted the Indian government to pressure Australia to do more to keep its students safe.

Eight years later, former Indian international student Gurnam Singh, who is now a mutlicultural advocate in Sydney, says initiatives like this police student soccer tournament have helped race relations.

“More awareness like people who are not educated, like the turban I am wearing. This was valued with the McGrath Foundation using the pink turban.”

And his optimism is enhanced by days like this one, where the community, police and students from all over the planet play for the same team.