Published: Monday, 15 September 2014 15:34
Most of them had never played soccer on grass fields with marked lines before, but in their first season in Australia this special team proved themselves champions. After a thrilling 2-1 win, the Newington Gunners Soccer Club’s team of refugees and asylum seekers won its Grand Final on Saturday, September 13.
The players had come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sierra Leone, Turkey, Nepal and Tajikistan to enjoy safer, better lives in Australia. Many of them are supported by not-for-profit organisation Settlement Services International’s (SSI) humanitarian settlement programs. SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said watching them play this season had been inspiring.
“Knowing just a little about the circumstances these individuals have come from has made watching them enjoy themselves on the soccer field this year an inspiring experience,” Ms Roumeliotis said. “It has been heartwarming to see them put traumatic life experiences in the background while they enjoy the sport they love and make new friends in the community, just like many other Australians enjoy doing. They are another inspiring example of how people who come to Australia as refugees or to apply for refugee status as asylum seekers can, and want, to participate in our communities.
Read more: Champion team united on the soccer field