Abdoulaye Djibril was volunteering at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) when he wanted to join a soccer team. He joined the ASRC soccer team and took over as coach to help them win.
When Djibril was told about the ASRC’s soccer team they said the team never won. Djibril wanted to know where they were playing next. “I said next week we are going to win. So this is how everything started for me. We went to play that game and we won the game,” he said.
When Djibril began coaching in 2014 he wanted to see what was going on in the team and how they were playing the game. Their biggest problem was that they had no leadership to organise and direct the team. Everyone wanted to play as a forward, so when they lost the ball nobody was there to defend from the goals. It was important to put them through drills and give them strategic information and help them be more disciplined to their respective positions.
When they win a game Djibril said it’s a very happy time for the team but when they lose it is very difficult. “The next day you need to come back and try to motivate the players for the following game. When you lose you lose. You can’t go back to that again and you have to move forward,” said Djibril.
He thinks the team has progressed quite successfully. Last year the team won six to seven games unbeaten and after that they lost one or two and then started winning again up until the last two games.
Playing with other teams in the Victorian Soccer League is a good opportunity for community members to meet people seeking asylum in Australia, and those seeking asylum to meet each other. “Soccer is something very difficult to describe,” said Djibril. “When you meet to play soccer everybody speaks the same language. It doesn’t matter where you come from. Everybody just enjoy the game and learns where people come from.”
After coaching for 1.5 years, Djibril has stepped aside to allow another player, Stephen Reynolds, to step up to the plate. He continues to help coach behind the scenes, and works both at the ASRC and with the Essendon Royals coordinating and teaching others to coach.