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Asylum Sneakers for asylum seeker

Donation of secondhand boots allows former refugee Nasim Yousofi to enjoy his new passion - soccer.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK June 21, 2014 4:28pm

Asylum seeker Nasim Yousofi's enjoyment of soccer has blossomed following the donation of secondhand soccer boots.


 

Former refugee Nasim Yousofi knows what a big difference a pair of soccer boots can make to someone’s life.

Nasim, 17, arrived in Shepparton as an unaccompanied minor in 2008.

Previously, he had been living in Pakistan to escape the war in his homeland of Afghanistan.

‘‘When I got here, it was pretty hard,’’ Nasim said.

‘‘I didn’t know anyone and I felt lonely.’’

Nasim’s life turned around when he met Shepparton couple Luis Rodriguez and Elisabeth Dunne, who run a social soccer program for newly arrived asylum seekers.

They use their own time and money to shuttle the boys to and from soccer games as well as acting as second parents.

 

‘‘When I came to Australia I didn’t even know the meaning of the word soccer,’’ he said.

‘‘I was kicking other people’s legs.

‘‘I love playing soccer because I get to see the other boys and I love to kick goals.’’

Nasim plays for Tatura’s under-17 team, where he is the team’s best striker, and Wanganui Park Secondary College’s senior team, wearing a pair of secondhand boots.

He is encouraging people to donate to Asylum Sneakers, a fundraiser aimed at providing football boots to young asylum seekers who otherwise could not afford them.

‘‘I was so happy when I got my first pair of boots. They looked like (Cristiano) Ronaldo’s,’’ Nasim said.

‘‘It’ll make (young asylum seekers) feel good to get a pair of boots.’’

Refugee support network Welcome to Australia hopes to deliver hundreds of football boots to young asylum seekers.

 

Businesses, organisations and individuals can make tax-deductible donations at www.asylumsneakers.com.au until July 30.

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