Keilor Gift and Iraq Unity Cup, speech, March 3, 2015

Today I would like to talk about two major community sporting events that took place in my electorate just-recently. The first is the Keilor Gift and the other is the Iraq Unity Cup. This year I had the pleasure of attending the annual Keilor Gift, which took place on 14 February. The gift is recognised as a premier athletic sporting event in the electorate and, indeed, it has grown over the years into one of Melbourne's top athletic meetings on the professional running circuit, often used by athletes as a lead-up to the major events later in the season. The Keilor Gift is a big drawcard in the local and wider community, and this year we saw some 3,000 people attend, 670 athletes participate in the running heats and 120 wood choppers take part in the wood-chopping contests. There was more than $30,000 in prize money awarded to the champion runners of the day.

The Keilor Gift has a long history that dates back to the 1930s. It began when the Keilor Sports Club, led by councillors Frank Milburn and Norm Woods, approached the Victorian Athletic League in 1932 for registration of an athletic meeting to be held in Keilor in February each year. So it was that on Saturday, 11 February 1933, the first Keilor Gift meeting was held.This year's Keilor Gift, held on 14 February, was as usual a great success and I would like to congratulate the 2015 Keilor Gift committee for organising the event. There are a number of very dedicated volunteers who work very hard to ensure that the annual Keilor Gift is a success, so on behalf of our community I would like to thank them. I would like to thank: Chairman Hayden Kelly, Secretary Barry Curley and committee members Denis Brown, Anton Mahoney, Malcolm Berg, Garry Stewart, Lee Falke, Brian Bulluss, Phil Davies, Ken Anstey, Paul Glushenko and Blake Meyer.

The Keilor Gift is very much a community effort and, for this reason, I would also like to thank and congratulate the following local organisations for their great work and dedication: the Keilor Football Club, the Keilor Cricket Club, Little Athletics, Keilor Scouts, the local SES, the local police, the Australian Axemen's Association, the Victorian Athletic League, Keilor Primary School, St Augustine's Primary School, the Rotary Club of Keilor, the Keilor Life Activities Club, the Keilor Bowls Club, the Keilor Tennis Club and the Keilor Sports Club. The Keilor Gift is a true family event, and I and the rest of the community look forward to attending an even bigger and better event next year.

I also want to speak about the Iraq Unity Cup. It is an event which is now in its third consecutive year in my electorate. The Iraq Unity Cup is an annual soccer tournament which this year took place over a period of one week, with the final taking place on 22 February. I want to congratulate my very special and dedicated constituents of Walid Hanna, members of the Upfield Soccer Club, as well as the Unity Cup's auspicing body, the Chaldean Federation of Victoria, who so generously host this event each year.

This year's soccer tournament was very successful and, as a result, I am very pleased that it will continue to be an annual fixture on the local Calwell community sporting calendar. I was pleased to have been given the opportunity to conduct the kick-off for the final. It was a great experience for me despite Melbourne putting on a very, very hot day. I was very pleased to welcome constituents of the member for Murray to my electorate, and I want to congratulate her as the team from Shepparton won 2-1 against the Sydney Stars.

Mr Husic:  Aw!

Ms VAMVAKINOU:  My commiserations to the member for Chifley. Shepparton defeated the Sydney Stars, with sportsmanship and goodwill being the overwhelming message of the day.Many of the players were newly arrived refugees from Iraq who came here under the refugee humanitarian program. I was particularly thrilled to meet some of the former refugees who came here as unaccompanied minors and who spent some time in the Melbourne immigration transit accommodation centre. It was very pleasing to see that they have gone on to make new lives in Australia and that many of them are highly talented soccer players. 

The Iraq Unity Cup is the perfect example of how sport can create a level playing field for all. The Iraq Unity Cup brings together Iraqis of Chaldean, Assyrian Christian, Sunni and Shia Muslim faith and backgrounds. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for all Iraqis living in Australia to come together in unity, free of the sectarian violence and divisions that have plagued and continue to plague their country of birth.