Sports: An Easy And Fun Way To Connect In A New Country

How I Grew My Community And Met New People Thanks To Polocrosse

Two women on horseback playing polocrosse.

How I Grew My Community And Met New People Thanks To Polocrosse 

I am an international student from Germany. Like most international students, I didn’t have family or a big number of friends in Australia when I first came here. I knew a few backpackers from travelling the country, but eventually they all returned to their homes overseas.

There I was – in a great, big, strange country and to make it even harder, I was 230 kilometers away from the next town. So how was I going to meet people and make friends? My Australian boyfriend had the answer: Polocrosse. I’d never even heard of polocrosse before I met him – an Australian team sport combining polo and lacrosse and played on horseback. Luckily, I used to ride horses in Germany and I love horses, so I decided to give it a go.

In the dry season, we drove to Darwin almost every weekend to play polocrosse. I was very nervous about meeting new people when we drove to polocrosse for the first time. But once we got there and everyone welcomed me with open arms, I was very relieved and so happy!

Now, four polocrosse seasons later, I consider myself part of the amazing Northern Territory polocrosse family! Because that’s how they are, like a great big caring family!

How You Can Become Part Of A Sports Community

Most likely, you have done some kind of sport in your home country. Maybe basketball, soccer, tennis, yoga, or belly dancing. If you live in a city, it’s very likely you will find a club doing your sport somewhere nearby. You may have to catch a train to get to an outer suburb, but most likely, there will be others practicing your sport.

And if you haven’t done any sport before? Well, it’s never too late! You may want to try something typically Australian, like cricket, netball, Australian rules football, or polocrosse like me. If sports aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other clubs you can join, like music or art groups. There will always be a community that shares your interests!

If you’re living remotely? Here is your opportunity: While there might not be a club for your sport exactly, there might be a different sport that is similar enough! And when you’re living remotely, people understand the struggle of feeling alone and will include you even quicker! 

Just make the first step and go see them. Sometimes you don’t even have to participate – you’ll start talking and get to know new people just by being there and watching. Go to the sports ground (most likely, you will be able to enter for free). If not, your $5 will be invested very well!

A group of women riding horses and playing polocrosse.
A team of women playing sports on a field.

Why Is It Easier To Get To Know People Playing Sports?

You will find that it is a lot easier to get to know people when playing sports together than it is to connect with new people at work or at a party. The reason for this is that you share a common interest. You are simply having fun together, so why wouldn’t someone be friendly and welcoming? People switch off and relax when they are exercising, especially when doing team sports. They will see you as part of a positive experience.

After training, people like to have a drink together. Just ask if you can join! There is no reason why they wouldn’t let you. Are you still nervous after getting rid of some energy? Have a glass of beer. It can be easier to start a conversation after a sip of beer or when you’re holding a drink. 

You’ll find that you will make new friends in no time!

How Your New Connections Can Help You Find A Job

As you might know, something special about the Australian work landscape is the hidden job market. A lot of jobs are not advertised and therefore not visible for someone searching for a job on the web. Some companies might not even know they are going to create a new job and employ someone new the next day until they meet the perfect person.

By becoming active in a sports club, getting to know people and volunteering where possible, you are not just making new friends. You are creating and spreading your personal brand. You are extending your network in a fun way! A senior player might be the CEO of your future company. Don’t stress yourself out about this. Just relax, be yourself, and enjoy! That’s the only way to make true friends. And it also is the only way to find a job that you will enjoy doing.

Get Out There And Find Your New Sports Family!

If you are feeling lonely in Australia because your friends and family are far away, I can relate. I warmly recommend that you join a sports club. You may find the ideal club is two suburbs away from you, but I promise the drive will be worth it!

Get on the field and make some really good friends! I know I have.

A group of people sitting around a table with drinks on it.
Leonie Schaefer

Leonie Schaefer is a Social Media Marketing Intern at Outcome.Life where she helps create content to empower better employability outcomes for international students and provide host companies with diverse and passionate interns. An international student herself, Leonie is a bilingual content creator who also enjoys playing the Australian sport, polocrosse (a mix of polo and lacrosse).

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