As a result of Soccerex’s newly announced relationship with Refugee Football Network (RFN), we are pleased to welcome our readers to the inaugural column of Corner Kick, articles written for Soccerex Reports by the reporters of Refugee Football Network (RFN).
RFN’s reporters come from all corners of the world…most live in refugee camps and centers and they are learning the skills needed to create a future for themselves. At the same time, they disseminate important football stories that not only entertain their audience but motivate and educate them in order to improve the quality of their lives.
Our initial stories will be devoted to the stories of the reporters themselves. How did they become refugees, where did they settle and how football added to and in some cases changed their lives. First up is Aman Garang Wel, RFN’s lead reporter.
For more details on Aman’s story and the stories of our other reporters, please go to Refugee Football Network’s YouTube Channel and look under Community Reports.
My name is Aman Garang Wel, and I am a South Sudanese national living in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Today I am a student and I also work as a Lead Reporter for Refugee Football Network (RFN). This is my story.
After fleeing a civil war in my home country, I became a refugee in 2014. Before becoming a refugee, I was a footballer in my hometown and I aspired to become a professional footballer. I had a dream to play in Europe, but this dream never came true due to my need to uproot and leave my country and because I did not have a platform or a place to learn about the various opportunities available to me.
In Kakuma, I began to play football again, this time (and the very first time) with people from many countries and that proved to have a positive impact on my life because it was the first time, I interacted with people from the communities I thought were my perpetrators when I fled South Sudan.
It was on the pitch at Kakuma that I was finally able to let go of the trauma I had suffered because I could laugh and enjoy every moment with my new friends. So I can say that football has taught me to understand and appreciate different cultures and religions, which I believe is one of the things that makes me feel at ease with anyone and it will be one of the things that I also believe will make me a successful person one day.
Along with football I continue in my academic journey. After finishing secondary school, I am now pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Development at XIM University. I also joined the Football Analyst Training Program, and later I was hired to work a part-time job as a football analyst. After a while, I became a coach for PM FC in Kakuma, and I consider myself to be a successful coach because I had on my team Shiki D, who received his first international call for the South Sudan national team this year.
I joined RFN as its lead reporter a few months ago and it immediately restored my hope that I could find a place in the football industry (off the field). Our reporter team has learned so much from the interviews we conduct with leaders in the football business; as well, RFN’s founder, Samuel Fox (Sandy) has provided wonderful advice to us.
For example, he said that to accomplish our goals, we need not only to work hard, but we must learn to “position ourselves to be lucky.” He went on to say, “every new person you meet in life presents an opportunity, whether in your career or in terms of building your character.” For me, these quotes are what I believe both football and RFN have to offer, so here I am today excited for the future.
Most refugees think of football as on the pitch opportunity that will change their lives. They dream of the stars they admire and the professional teams they follow, just as I did in South Sudan, and they see themselves having a future as a player. Of course, we know that dream cannot last for most, but that should not stop our dreams, we just have to change them.
Now I see through RFN that football can be a tool to change the lives of refugees off the pitch by bringing us opportunity in the sport itself. I am proud and delighted to be a part of RFN and especially thrilled and honored to be able to improve the lives of my fellow refugees.