It was impossible to not be infected by the happy mood that permeated the Illawarra Multicultural Services’ Harmony Day celebrations on Saturday.
Teammates from vastly different backgrounds worked together on the soccer field to execute the perfect goal, upbeat music blared from the speakers and kids snacked on saucy sausage sandwiches or had their faces painted with bright colours, all in the name of celebrating diversity.
While football was the highlight of the day for many, patrons were also treated to performances by Burmese and Chilean dances, hip hop and zumba workshops and international delicacies, with stalls selling Ethiopian food and Burmese noodles.
'Harmony Day is a chance for people to reflect on the diverse community we have in Australia and the Illawarra.'
Illawarra Multicultural Services executive manager Mohan Gunasekara said he had encouraged people to have a conversation with one new person who had a background different from their own.
He said the cultural mix of the Illawarra changed over the years, with growing numbers of people from Burma, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and African nations such as Congo, Eritrea and Togo now calling the region home.
‘‘Harmony Day is a chance for people to reflect on the diverse community we have in Australia, and particularly in the Illawarra,’’ Mr Gunasekara said.
‘‘It’s wonderful to have young people get together and share a passion, whether it’s soccer or entertainment, to sit down and share some food, and it’s wonderful we can have people from different backgrounds getting together and sharing their time.’'