Hero Stories

The universal language of soccer at Mooroolbark Soccer Club

Ngur Sang is 16 years old. He’s originally from the Chin state in Burma, and before coming to Australia he and his family lived in New Delhi, India. Ngur speaks five languages, English, Hindi, Mizo and Falam, and the universal language of Soccer.

In 2014, Ngur played in the U15B side at Mooroolbark Soccer Club where he learned a lot of new skills, met new friends and said his coach, Kevin, was “friendly and funny”. Despite the challenges of overcoming the language barrier, each year is easier for Ngur.

Pakip Thang is also 16 years old and originally from the Chin state in Burma. Pakip had played two seasons at Mooroolbark Soccer Club and describes his team as “joyful, fun and confidence building”. Aside from the physical benefits of playing soccer, Pakip and Ngur are gaining valuable opportunities to make new friends and gain self-esteem.

Tess Jolley is a social worker that helps newly arrived kids transition into the community. In her three years as Youth Settlement Worker at the Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Region) she has worked with kids like Ngur and Pakip.

“Ngur was very shy when I first met him a couple of years ago. He used to get Pakip to interpret for him, but now he speaks to me directly,” says Jolley. “Soccer has been really good for him. He care’s less about his language skills- its enough just being part of a team.”

Jolley is witness to the subtle shifts in the boys as soccer offers opportunities to get outdoors, enjoy structured training and play organized sport.

“The benefits are not just the technical skills but also learning the importance of teamwork, making new friends, developing confidence, broadening the boys networks and their sense of belonging with the wider community,” says Jolley. “The boys love the game and are super excited to be able to play.”

Mooroolbark Soccer Club has a huge community of newly arrived migrants, and the club is inclusive. With support from Sports Without Borders, Pakip and Ngur have been able to join the club and enjoy the benefits of being part of the local sporting community.

“The support Sports Without Borders has provided the refugee boys at Mooroolbark Soccer Club has been fantastic.  For many of these boys it is their first experience of playing soccer with a club and this has provided so many opportunities.”

These scholarships are powered by SWB’s Social Inclusion Through Sport (SITS) program.