Football can mean so much more than kicking a ball around the field – for a young asylum seeker, it can provide hope and healing.
Asylum Sneakers is a campaign established by Welcome to Australia that provides football boots to young asylum seekers who could not otherwise afford them.
The campaign has ambassador support from the A-League Adelaide United football team and football commentator, refugee and former Illawarra resident Les Murray.
‘‘The way Australia treats refugees and asylum seekers today is so far-removed from the welcome I remember receiving when my family first arrived here, and it certainly doesn’t reflect the generous spirit of most Australians whom I’ve come to know,’’ Mr Murray said.
‘‘I think it’s time to intervene.
‘‘We can show asylum seekers that Australians do care about their future, and they are welcome here – and what better way to do this than through football, the world game.’’
The Welcome to Australia team are trying to put a human face on asylum seeker issues and shift the conversation away from politics and towards people and their stories.
‘‘We want to be a positive voice of acceptance so asylum seekers know that Australians do love, welcome and accept them,’’ director of the Wollongong Welcome to Australia branch Clara Saddi said.
The campaign aims to raise $85,000 and the Wollongong branch is hoping for a $4000 contribution.
Individuals and organisations can donate and receive perks ranging from a thank-you card to Australian sports memorabilia depending on the amount contributed.
‘‘Wollongong wants the opportunity to create change on a platform that can link people who want to help,’’ Miss Saddi said.