Sporting a new campaign


Overseas students are helping to promote international events in Sydney

As part of the City of Sydney’s sponsorship arrangements with the Asian Football Confederation Cup and the upcoming Cricket World Cup, the City has enlisted its International Student Ambassadors to promote Sydney to prospective foreign students in a widespread social media campaign.

Around 40 students are successfully providing social media coverage of their VIP attendance at warm-up matches, competition games and trophy ceremonies using the hashtag #myfuturesydney. The project aims to showcase the lives of the students in and out of the classroom, building on Sydney’s reputation as a popular destination for tourists and students.

“We went for a social media workshop to learn how to become social media ambassadors and promote the City’s events,” says Navateja Rudra, a 21-year-old student originally from Hyderabad now studying for his Masters in Telecommunications at the University of Wollongong.

“It’s about being at the events and uploading images onto Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I used to use social media for my daily activities, life events, chatting with overseas friends, staying connected with them, but now it’s also about promoting the city.”

The first cohort of students from the City of Sydney International Student Leadership and Ambassador Program consisted of 41 students, from 18 countries, selected from more than 120 applicants. They graduated in late 2013 after taking part in a series of workshops and courses covering leadership, cultural awareness, and writing and project management, as well as taking part in volunteer opportunities. It has now become an annual program.

Navateja, who lives in Sydney’s Westmead, came to Australia to study at “one of the best universities” and achieve a higher level of education in order to progress his career. He saw the Leadership and Ambassador program advertised on the City of Sydney website, which he used to search to see what events were going on in the city.

“I wanted to explore and see the city,” he says. The program is an opportunity for Nava to participate in various events and discover different aspects of Sydney. “It’s about meeting people, networking with people, learning new things, getting you out of your comfort zone; it’s the perfect opportunity to explore the city.”

Having only been in Sydney for just over six months, Nava has already thrown himself into life in a new city. He is currently raising money for competitors in the Special Olympics and regularly volunteers his time to teach contemporary dance classes to disabled and special needs children.

As part of Chinese New Year celebrations, including a parade through the city on 22 February, the City of Sydney’s student ambassadors will also be part of an international students’ float. More than 50 participants will be part of the project and Navateja is the team’s choreographer.

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said the City is delighted to support sporting and cultural events that will bring “much economic activity and excitement to Sydney”.

“Through both tournaments, our student ambassadors will be encouraged to tweet and post scenes to all their followers back home and build on our reputation as the most popular destination in the world for international students,” the Lord Mayor continued.

So far Nava has been to most of the football matches held in Sydney for the Asian Cup, watching Australia play against Oman, Qatar and Bahrain, but he is especially excited by the prospect of the ICC World Cup tournament. “Indians are mostly crazy about cricket, and obviously I am too, so I’m looking forward to the World Cup matches,” he says.

The City of Sydney will provide marketing, venue hire and support for live sites during the Cricket World Cup and Asian Football Confederation Cup in a sponsorship deal worth $80,000 for each tournament.

Sydney, supported by Destination NSW, will host a total of seven matches during the AFC Asian Cup, including the final on 31 January. “[These matches] are a chance to strengthen cultural, social and economic ties with our Asian neighbours through football,” the Lord Mayor said.

“All of the Sydney matches for the Cricket World Cup will be played in our local government area at the SCG, and Paddington and Surry Hills are set to become official supporter bases. We will work with local bars and cafes to decorate their premises and capitalise on the business opportunities the World Cup offers,” the Lord Mayor said.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the four-yearly ICC Cricket World Cup, which is jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from 14 February to 29 March, with five games to be played in Sydney. The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup event is expected to see a 1,000 per cent increase in Twitter activity and 45 per cent increase in Facebook use.

According to figures from global consultancy firm AT Kearney, Sydney is the most popular city in the world for international university students.

The Australian government estimates Sydney currently hosts 50,000 international students, with another 50,000 studying vocational and English courses.

“My friends think it’s amazing, that I get to go everywhere and have an enjoyable time,” Navateja says. “They say, ‘You’re helping people and getting a chance to go to events and represent the city!’”

Follow the hashtag on social media – #myfuturesydney