The Newington Gunners Soccer Club’s defending champions have kicked off the 2015 season in the same fashion they finished 2014 — with a win. The Gunners’ men’s team of mostly asylum seekers and refugees that won the Granville and Districts Football Soccer Association AAM6 division title in 2014, has stepped up a division this season but continued winning nonetheless.
The Newington Gunners AAM5 team at a tournament in the off-season.
The team, coached by Essa Khan and captained by Shabbir Hussain, beat Greystanes at Greystanes 4-1. As was the case in 2014, the team was only able to pay registrations and take the field this year thanks to the generous support of benefactors in the community.
Synapse Medical Services and several individuals who wished to remain anonymous sponsored the team last year and continued their support again this year. The Les Twentymen organisation joined them to help fund registration costs of about $300 a player.
Essa said he was incredibly thankful for all the support the community had shown his team. Without the sponsorship, Essa said his team would have no way to participate in the competition.
Shabbir provided some insight in to why the team had hit the ground running this season.
“In the off season we were still practicing at Auburn Park and we also participated in three tournaments,” he said. “First tournament was in Adelaide in which we lost in the quarterfinals. The second tournament was the South Asian tournament, in which we were the runner up team, and the third one was a seven-aside tournament in which we were also the runner up.
“We are confident this season as well and we hope to defend our title. The players are fit because we were practicing and playing in the off season.”
Shabbir said he hoped some of the team’s supporters would be able to make it to away games this season to barrack for them.
Most of the players are seeking asylum and come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Tajikistan. Their English skills vary and they are still learning their way in Australia.
The team always has club officials and supporters to assist them at home games in Newington, but Shabbir said the away games could be tough when supporters could not attend. The Gunners are always more confident with a boisterous crowd, he said, so try to get to a game and support!
May 9: Bye
May 16: Newington AAM5 v Parramatta City, Wilson Park 2, Newington, 3pm.
May 17 (Catch up game): Newington AAM5 v Holroyd Rangers, Wilson Park 2, Newington, 3pm.
May 23: Newington AAM5 v Auburn District, Progress Park 2, Auburn, 3pm.
May 30: Newington AAM5 v Winston Hills, Wilson park 2, Newington, 3pm.
June 6: Newington AAM5 v Auburn FC, Webbs Avenue 2, Auburn, 3pm.