Tarik Bayrakli’s relationship with sport runs deep. He’s a soccer enthusiast from way back but more than that, he understands the important role of sport in bringing people together.
Tarik joined the Victorian Women’s Trust team in recent months as Manager of our harm prevention sports initiative, Club Respect. In the years prior, Tarik was heavily involved with Sports Without Borders, working closely with newly arrived people, refugees and people seeking asylum.
We asked Tarik about his favourite sporting moments and how Club Respect is changing sports clubs for the better.
Sum up your relationship with sport in three words:
The 3 F’s: fun, fitness and friends.
Sport is a huge part of our community. Do you have a favourite sports moment that really captured that for you?
Cathy Freeman lighting the torch at the Sydney Olympics was the most sensational moment for me. It showed how deeply sport can influence society and public opinion. Another significant moment was when the Australian soccer community came together to free refugee Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison. But the biggest shift was the way AFLW sparked a rapid rise in the number of girls and women participating in club football. I was there at the first match at Princes Park in 2017. I felt that the crowd knew they were witnessing the start of something significant for community sport.
You’ve recently joined the Victorian Women’s Trust as the Manager of Club Respect. What’s it like to be working in a feminist organisation?
Irrespective of gender we are all working towards the same thing. I love the conversations I have with colleagues and how they expand my knowledge of the unique challenges faced by women. I also like to think I can add useful insights as a man from my own personal experiences.
What’s the role of Club Respect in shaping a better future for women and girls?
People in community sport clubs have an incredibly close connection with those around them. The way the coach influences players, the way parents and supporters interact with the umpires and in the way club presidents and committees make decisions affecting the way the club runs. These behaviours set the culture in the club and importantly they influence and validate the way club people live their lives outside of the club. When we see players being violent, parents being abusive and a win-at-all-costs mentality it is all too easy to see how these values, attitudes and behaviours are experienced in our homes.
Club Respect offers the guidance to help clubs make the right decisions, making sure that important things like setting standards for behaviour and living by club values are central to the way the club operates.
The sporting world is being tested right now by restrictions on mass gatherings due to COVID-19. How can we think of this moment as an opportunity?
Sport clubs are beneficial to our communities in so many ways. However, there is a sense that sport club can produce winners and the next elite, professional athletes. But as we know, only a small number of sport participants get to this level, where they are paid to play their sport.
The current crisis gives us pause to think about what we really love about playing sport and what we want from our experience at sport clubs. It is not exactly a ‘clean slate’, but sport clubs have a unique opportunity to redefine their club’s culture as being a safe, kind and fair place.
Name a book that’s keeping your spirits up while we’re physically isolating.
I fall comfortably into the writing style of Christos Tsiolkas and have just finished the book Barracuda. It has so many elements relevant in my life making it quite relatable; sport, family, class, migration and ethnicity.