Reds participate in cross-cultural football for Refugee Week

On Wednesday, Adelaide United FC players Awer Mabil and Jimmy Jeggo were in attendance at Saint Ignatius’ College as part of Refugee Week

On Wednesday, Adelaide United FC players Awer Mabil and Jimmy Jeggo were in attendance at Saint Ignatius- College as part of Refugee Week. Saint Ignatius- College has for 11 years celebrated Refugee Week with the annual Friendship Cup held at their senior school in Athelstone. Both male and female senior students of the college enjoyed a friendly game of football against the refugee children from the Adelaide Secondary School of English.

Refugee Week, held this year from Sunday 15 June to Saturday 21 June, is Australia's annual event aimed at raising awareness about the issues affecting refugees and highlighting the rich culture that refugees bring to Australian society.

Saint Ignatius- College teacher and Friendship Cup initiator, Con Kapnistis feels the event is effective in allowing his students to generate a well-rounded understanding of the meaning of ‘refugee- through personal experience.

“The Friendship Cup is valued by both schools for the benefits it offers their students. Whilst it is a fun and engaging way of making the young refugees feel welcome in Australia it also allows the students of Saint Ignatius- opportunity to gain a better understanding of an issue so prevalent in our world today,” Mr Kapnistis said.

He continued to explain that this is “more than just a schoolyard game, the event is a wonderful celebration of cultural diversity and a fantastic opportunity for people of varying backgrounds to engage with one another.”

Reds players, Awer Mabil and Jimmy Jeggo, along with assistant coach Michael Valkanis, were special guests at the event this year. The players gave students a pre-game pep talk and cheered them along from the sidelines. After the games were finished, they both posed for photos and gave a speech at a small post-game presentation.

During the presentations, Head of Senior School, Mr Peter Coffey, spoke of the philosophy behind its name ‘The Friendship Cup- stating that “it's about trying to form some simple bonds, to share each other-s company to enjoy the game of football (soccer), the world game and in some ways try to break down the stereotypes that exists about people that come from different backgrounds.”

Awer was kind enough to briefly share his story with the students, “I was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, Kakuma and my parents are Sudanese and they left Sudan before I was born and they moved to the refugee camp in Kenya. We came here in 2006 and I am really grateful to come because the life back there is very bad. As a refugee kid I tried to do my best to make my mum happy because she has been through a lot. I was once a refugee kid and still am a refugee kid.”

Awer spoke of the issues and sadness that surrounds the camp. It was only a week ago that he returned from Kenya, after visiting family and friends in the camp. Awer took Adelaide United gear to donate to the young children in the camp, passing on hope that they one day too can fulfil their dreams of freedom.

Awer had an important message for not just the refugee students but all the students present that day, “if you have a dream follow it and work hard don-t get motivated in the wrong way, try to make your parents proud and work hard.”

The Club has supported the event for the past 7 years and for Awer and Jimmy who both described the day as ‘a fantastic event,- it is hoped that the support for refugee students in Adelaide will grow.

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