For 29-year-old refugee and former assistant manager of an Afghan Premier League team, Khorsand Yousofzai, the tranquillity of his new home in Newcastle, NSW, is just what he needs after a tumultuous period.
Former assistant manager of an Afghan Premier League team, Khorsand Yousofzai, is settling well in Newcastle, NSW.
“Newcastle is very good, such a quiet place, and no lockdown,” he said. Mr Yousofzai evacuated Kabul airport with the rest of the Afghanistan women’s national football team, arriving in Melbourne, Australia, in late August.
“Our whole team is in Melbourne, and the team sponsored us to come.”
Mr Yousofzai is no stranger to cultural adjustment as he’d at one time spent two-and-a-half years in Japan.
“When I was twelve, I moved to Japan,” he said. “I can speak five languages. Hindi, Dari, Pashto – my native language – Japanese and a little bit of English.”
Between 2015 and 2021, Mr Yousofzai was the head coach and manager of an Afghan Premier League team, Royal Kabul Ladies, and his wife was co-manager of the football club. During those years, the team was at the top of the ladder and consistently champions of the competition.
From January 2021 until August 2021, Mr Yousofzai had been one of three coaches of the Afghanistan women’s national football team.
“I had many teams, including boys and girls from ages 15 to 18.
“I hold an Asian Football Confederation license for coaching.”
While Mr Yousofzai said that he was relieved to have escaped Kabul during the recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, he was saddened to have been forced to leave behind his loved ones.
“My wife came with me to Kabul airport but, unfortunately, they didn’t let her enter with me,” he said.
“The team and the other players entered with me, but she wasn’t able to join us.”
Mr Yousofzai said that he contacted his wife back in Kabul every day, but her situation as a woman in Afghanistan was becoming increasingly dire.
“She’s worried even to leave her place to go to work because women can’t go outside without a man, brother, or husband,” he said.
“It’s even difficult for her to leave to go to her mother’s house.”
Mr Yousofzai said he was overwhelmed by the welcome he’d received from the local community in Newcastle. Newcastle had raised money for gift card donations that Afghan new arrivals could use at most mainstream supermarkets and retailers.
“Many thanks to the Newcastle community for your generous donations,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to buying some much-needed essential items and start my new life here in Australia.”
The Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP), funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs* and delivered by Settlement Services International, has provided Mr Yousofzai with wrap-around support services since he arrived.
Mr Yousofzai said that he’d been satisfied with the support and services so far in Australia.
“Thanks for SSI, making everything fast. They did everything fast.”
“Services in Australia are very good, very humanitarian.”
SSI continues to provide settlement services and case management support to refugees and humanitarian entrants in NSW, including Afghan arrivals, on arrival, in hotel quarantine, and for up to 18 months in the community.
To support local Afghan arrivals and other refugees in Newcastle, visit the NSS Refugee Support Appeal page here or become an SSI volunteer here.
*Go to https://homeaffairs.gov.au/ for more information.