Herman Lotey: Sport for social change

Facilitating multicultural communities to participate in sport in a safe, inclusive environment

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Forging a career in sport is often a pipe dream – after all, sport evokes passion and dedication in a way that few other endeavours can. But for Herman Lotey, a co-founder of the Australian International Sports Organisation (AUSISO), it’s not only a reality, but a hugely successful one. After over a decade of dedication to Australia’s grassroots sporting community, Herman’s efforts were recently recognised at the NSW Premier’s Harmony Dinner, where he was awarded with the NSW Multicultural Community Sports Medal.

Herman’s name will be familiar to those who have played cricket in Sydney; in the late 2000s, Herman started one of Sydney’s first winter cricket competitions, frustrated at the lack of options for cricket fans during that period. It was not only a successful competition that ran for nearly a decade, but an experience that allowed him to become intimately familiar with the sporting industry, particularly around participation.

Herman Lotey and Nicholas Toscan (Source: Supplied)

Herman – who originally aspired to be a cricket journalist and worked for several years within the media industry – went on to take up roles at Cricket NSW, before establishing AUSISO in 2018 with co-founder and business partner Nicholas Toscan.

Working at the helm of a multicultural sports organisation could well be what Herman was born to do. Born in Sweden and with a Sikh background, Herman and his family migrated to Australia in the 1990s, and sport is what helped connect Herman to his new home.

Entrepreneurialism, too, runs in Herman’s blood, with his father also running his own business and family being Herman’s biggest motivation. “I’ve been very fortunate to have learnt a lot about various cultures through sport,” says Herman. “When I was facilitating the Winter Cricket Cup, I met a lot of different people, memories I’ll never forget and will cherish forever. I’m a firm believer that sport can unite people.”

Even in the chaotic few years since its inception, AUSISO – which pioneers sport for social change through education providers, government, health providers and sport organisations – now employs 5 part-timers and over 40 casual employees, in addition to Herman and Nicholas.

“It’s been an amazing journey so far,” says Herman. “It’s no doubt been quite challenging, particularly with COVID lockdowns. However, we believed in our services and products and have continued to drive social cohesion through sport”.

Herman Lotey sport nsw
At the Premier’s Harmony Dinner (Source: Supplied/Salty Dingo 2023 BH)

“In some instances we have provided individuals with their first job in Australia, which we are extremely proud of,” continues Herman. “Having a team out every day delivering sporting programs for young boys and girls in schools and the community is something we are so passionate about.”

That passion is just one of the reasons Herman was awarded the 2023 NSW Multicultural Community Sports Medal, an award aimed at recognising the achievements of an individual that has promoted cultural understanding and sporting endeavours in multicultural communities. As a pioneer of multicultural sport in NSW, it’s no surprise that the award is close to Herman’s heart.

But it’s not just lip service: AUSISO’s 8-week multi-sport Junior Australian Sports Program has seen a staggering 518 participants between the ages of 4-12 taking part in this school term alone, with 215 of these being female.

Also important is AUSISO’s work with other sporting organisations. “One of the proudest achievements for us is to work alongside Usman Khawaja and his foundation, the Usman Khawaja Foundation, which alleviates disadvantage experienced by youth through the provision of educational and cricketing opportunities,” says Herman.

Speaking about the award, Herman’s overwhelming reaction is one of humility for those he has been able to help. “I feel really privileged and fortunate to be able to create opportunities for international students and multicultural communities to participate in sport in a safe, inclusive environment,” he says. “There are a lot of wonderful ambassadors out in the community who do amazing work for their respective communities and there’s still a lot of work that can be done to ensure sport remains inclusive.”

AUSISO’s immediate objective is to continue its rapid growth beyond NSW, helping sporting clubs and associations with funding and grant support, and to continue to showcase the benefits of sport across Australia. On a personal note, Herman hopes to continue pushing boundaries in sport, and ultimately inspire his sons to one day to take up their own dreams.

For any parent or guardian on the fence about registering their child into organised sport, Herman’s advice is simple: “Go for it! They’ll meet new friends, learn new skills and you’ll see their confidence grow. There are so many mental and physical benefits to participate in sport.”

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Ritam Mitra
Ritam Mitra
Ritam is an award-winning journalist and lawyer based in Sydney. Ritam writes on domestic and global politics, human rights and social justice, and sport.

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