25-year-old Almaliki was born in Iraq and came to Australia as a refugee with his parents and two brothers in 1997, fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime.
He picked up cricket while housed in Villawood Detention Centre as a child while his family awaited asylum in Australia. He watched on as Tamil detainees played cricket to pass the idle time refugees are faced with.
From this experience, Sam knows as well as any newcomer to Australia the power of cricket to help people become engaged in the community. This initial cricket experience while in detention was reinforced by some encouragement to play the game from a school teacher once his family established themselves in Sydney’s Canterbury region after gaining refugee status.
After quickly taking to Australia’s national game, his love of the cricketwas cemented after watching Steve Waugh’s Australian team tour the West Indies in 1999.
At just 15 he founded the Sydney Junior Winter Cricket Association, a competition that ignored the summer traditions of cricket. It is now one of Sydney’s largest associations with 900 players and Test captain Michael Clarke as a patron.
The successful establishment of the Sydney Junior Winter Cricket Association led him to a position as Emerging Markets Leader at Cricket NSW. A role in which he devised Australian cricket’s first multicultural engagement strategy and established the Mosaic multicultural cricket program.
His strong work in New South Wales communities led him to the role of Senior Manager Community Engagement in the Game and Market Development department at Cricket Australia.
He is the first to hold the role, which was created in 2013 as part of Australian Cricket’s focus on engaging Australia’s diverse communities with significant funding.
Australian Cricket’s vision is a sport for all Australians and Almaliki’s role is at the heart of this vision. It is his task, along with his team and community engagement teams across the country, to engage Australia’s diverse communities, ensuring all Australians have the opportunity to get involved in cricket.
In his role, he oversees a team that manages multicultural, female, Indigenous and disability cricket programs in conjunction with a community engagement network that stretches across the country.
In 2014, he led the creation of the National Community Engagement Framework, Australian Cricket’s vision for engaging Australia’s diverse communities. The Framework contains customised strategies for engaging all parts of Australia’s society and targets to be reached by 2017-18, including growing multicultural participation from 24% to 37% of all cricket participants.
His role as Senior Manager Community Engagement relies on all areas of Australian Cricket. He is tasked with drawing on the expertise across Australian Cricket to better engage Australia’s diverse communities whether it be commercial, marketing, high performance, media or otherwise.
His activitiesand dedication to support multicultural communities stretches far beyond Australian Cricket.A previous Commissioner on Multicultural NSW (previously The Community Relations Commission) he sits on the SBS Community Advisory Committee and is a member of the Australia India Business Council. He was also a 2014 refugee week ambassador and Australia India Youth Dialogue Delegate. He currently serves on the Executive of Abhinay School of Performing Arts and is a 2015 Taste of Harmony cultural ambassador.
“My role is to ensure diversity and inclusion is embedded throughout Australian cricket,’ Mr Almaliki said.
He added, “Australian Cricket’s vision is for all Australians, irrespective of gender background, to feel that cricket represents them, and that they can be a part of it, whether it’s as a player, fan, volunteer, official or administrator.
“The diversity and cultural dynamism of Australia is what makes our country great. Our vision is for the diversity of Australian society to be reflected in Australian cricket.
“Cricket has an incredible power to bring together people of all backgrounds. I experienced this first-hand growing up and I want all Australians, irrespective of their background, to understand the opportunities cricket can bring.
“More Australians of diverse background representing Australia is vital to us engaging our diverse communities. The success of players like GurinderSandhu, Fawad Ahmed and UsmanKhawaja really underscores our work in communities. They provide hero-figures that young Australians of multicultural backgrounds can aspire to become.”