Rediscovering his passion for competitive sport has put a smile back on the face of one young wrestler as he awaits the outcome of his refugee application.
Yaser has been wrestling for 10 years, but said he had a tough time finding somewhere to continue his training when he first came to Australia to seek asylum from Iraq in 2013.
Yaser, in red, wrestling at a recent competition.
Yaser, who is living in the community while his claim for refugee status is assessed, attributes his ongoing motivation to both his family and his Settlement Services International (SSI) case manager, Eman Elfoul.
“Wrestling is close to my personality, as I have always been very active,” Yaser said. “My family always push and motivate me, so really I have them to thank.”
“My SSI case manager Eman always helps me. She really helps me to contribute to the community by sharing my skills with others, joining in the national championships, and joining in the wrestling community. She has also helped to motivate me to go to the gym and meet new friends.”
Yaser competed in his firstevent in Australia in 2013, where he won gold, and he has gone on to place in a number of other state and national competitions since.
Eman said Yaser’s communication and confidence had also benefited from his return to wrestling.
“He is much more willing to socialise with others and his discipline and control is really inspiring. He’s now much more focused than when he first came to Australia,” she said.
“He is a model community member and is contributing so much. He is such a hard worker, and he has so much to share. He is such a talented individual!”
Yaser became hooked on wrestling at age 11 after watching the sport on TV in Iran.
“I started going to a gym near my house and training a lot,” he said “I have a lot of wrestling friends and got really into it. I was training two times a week in the beginning, and when I started to improve I trained more and more.
“It makes me so happy, I love the feeling of being so focused on wrestling and my opponent.”
With a raft of local wins under his belt, Yaser now has his sights set further afield.
“I would love to win an Olympic gold medal, but in the meantime I am still learning so much,” he said. “I am so grateful. Thank you to SSI for helping me to find my way.”