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Finding the new stars of Australian soccer?

Net result: Collingwood player Aguek celebrates a goal.

Net result: Collingwood player Aguek celebrates a goal. Photo: Mal Fairclough

IT WAS an unmistakably Melbourne scene. A sports oval on a Saturday, grass dry and yellowing, and the Rotary Club's barbecue about to fire up. Outside a tram hurtled under the CityLink tollway and up past the high-rise flats.

Just off the pitch came something different. Young African faces watched the game, chanting ''Come on New Zealand! Come on New Zealand'' despite their Australian accents. Maybe this was a natural reaction; the New Zealand side was up against a Collingwood team.

On the field there's something worth celebrating - young men from Australia's refugee communities brought together by their love of soccer. Across the sides there were players from Somali, Eritrean, Sudanese and Kenyan backgrounds. Many come from communities where alcohol abuse, crime and violence are problems, not to mention the struggle their families endured to escape from their war-ravaged homelands. It's little wonder the goals bring such jubilation.

Next week Melbourne will host the Australian Somali National Football Championships, a celebration of Australian-African soccer and a large social event for Horn of Africa communities from Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and from over the Tasman.

Such has been the success of the past two championships, this year's event - which kicked off at Debneys Park in Flemington on Saturday - has grown to 17 teams in the men's competition, plus teams in divisions for teens, women and masters. In all, about 500 players will play in the championships, while thousands of their friends and family members - many of them women and girls - will gather at reserves in Thornbury, Heidelberg and Kensington to watch.

''It brings the whole community together: different cultures, different players from every place,'' said Abdi Farah, who came to Australia from Somalia when he was nine and is the goalkeeper for the Collingwood side.

''We've got the Sudanese, the Ethiopians, the Oromo. There are a few Aussies as well. It's a good feeling. The main purpose is to get to know each other. Soccer is the world game and the best way to communicate is through football.''

In organising the championships, the Football Federation of Victoria wanted to bring together African communities, but was conscious of avoiding a competition played between different cultures. Therefore teams comprise members of all the respective ethnicities and represent suburbs, with Dandenong, Reservoir, Werribee and Ascot Vale among the Melbourne teams taking part.

Ahmed Dini, a community engagement officer with FFV and whose job it is to co-ordinate the championships, said the keenness for teams to take part meant organisers fielded inquiries from Canada, London and Scandinavia. There are few competitions like this anywhere.

''This championship is talked about six months prior to its starting, so there's a lot of pride within the teams and how they play,'' Dini said.

''It's a bit of civic pride; everybody wants to ensure the cup stays within their suburbs. Most people are not proud of coming from flats and areas with low-socio incomes. But when it comes to this time of the year they're very proud of where they live.''

For many players, this competition is their only chance to play organised games all year. Not that it shows. The games are fast, skilful and willing: several big tackles are made, but the game resumes quickly.

Dini said playing brought a sense of prestige and gave vulnerable young men a chance to be part of something good.

''A lot of young Africans find themselves in trouble because there isn't an avenue where they can feel like they belong to society or feel like they're engaging society in a positive manner,'' he said.

''Without this they get bored, which can lead to some silly stuff which can lead to issues with police.

''This is one way of making sure they do feel like they're appreciated, they're part of the wider community. Through this and our leadership programs we teach them they are part of society and they're Australians now, and they need to show a positive image for the rest of their communities. They're ambassadors.''

The championships run to Saturday. Details: www.aussiesomali football.com

Hyundai A - 2014-15 - All Rounds

Round 1
Fri, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 4vs WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs NEW 0 Stats
SYD 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs PER 2 Stats
BRI 1vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs VIC 1 Stats
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs WEL 2 Stats
SYD 3vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 3vs BRI 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI 0vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 5vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4vs NEW 1 Stats
ADE 2vs PER 0 Stats
Wed, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs CCM 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
PER 2vs NEW 1 Stats
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2vs CCM 0 Stats
Mon, 03 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs WEL 0 Stats
Wed, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs BRI 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs WSW 0 Stats
ADE 0vs SYD 0 Stats
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2vs VIC 2 Stats
BRI 1vs MCY 3 Stats
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs BRI 4 Stats
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs WEL 1 Stats
SYD 0vs VIC 0 Stats
PER 2vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2vs CCM 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs BRI 0 Stats
PER 2vs WEL 1 Stats
Sat, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs NEW 1 Stats
MCY 1vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs PER 1 Stats
WSW 1vs SYD 1 Stats
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 5vs MCY 1 Stats
NEW 1vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1vs PER 2 Stats
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs WEL 3 Stats
ADE 2vs WSW 0 Stats
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs BRI 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 0vs BRI 1 Stats
PER 2vs NEW 0 Stats
Sat, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs CCM 1 Stats
VIC 3vs SYD 3 Stats
Wed, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 3vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs VIC 0 Stats
PER 4vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs WEL 2 Stats
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs WSW 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs PER 1 Stats
SYD 0vs ADE 3 Stats
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs BRI 3 Stats
VIC 1vs NEW 0 Stats
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs WSW 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2vs MCY 5 Stats
BRI 0vs SYD 0 Stats
Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs WEL 3 Stats
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs CCM 0 Stats
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs NEW 0 Stats
Sun, 04 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3vs BRI 0 Stats
CCM 2vs MCY 0 Stats
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 1vs ADE 2 Stats
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 7vs NEW 0 Stats
CCM 1vs SYD 5 Stats
Sun, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 3vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 01 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2vs WSW 1 Stats
Mon, 02 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 3vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 2vs ADE 1 Stats
VIC 3vs MCY 0 Stats
PER 1vs SYD 3 Stats
Sun, 08 FebTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2vs WEL 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs MCY 0 Stats
NEW 1vs WSW 1 Stats
SYD 3vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 4vs CCM 2 Stats
ADE 2vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2vs NEW 2 Stats
MCY 0vs PER 0 Stats
Wed, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 1vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs CCM 0 Stats
WSW 3vs SYD 4 Stats
PER 2vs BRI 2 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs WEL 3 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2vs ADE 0 Stats
VIC 1vs PER 1 Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs MCY 0 Stats
BRI 1vs WSW 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 4vs NEW 0 Stats
PER 1vs WEL 2 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 5vs BRI 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs NEW 2 Stats
ADE 2vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 1vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1vs BRI 0 Stats
PER 3vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs SYD 3 Stats
NEW 0vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 0vs VIC 3 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW 0vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC 0vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 0vs SYD 3 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 2vs BRI 3 Stats
CCM 1vs WSW 0 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY 0vs WEL 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 3vs CCM 2 Stats
NEW 3vs SYD 4 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 2vs ADE 1 Stats
BRI 0vs VIC 1 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
PER 3vs MCY 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 2vs NEW 1 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 1vs PER 2 Stats
ADE 4vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 1vs SYD 2 Stats
VIC 3vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 28
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 2vs BRI 1 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
WEL 0vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 29
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
VIC 3vs MCY 0 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 4vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 30
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
VIC 3vs SYD 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A - 2014-15 - Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L +/- Pts
Melbourne Victory 27 15 4 25 53
Sydney FC 27 14 5 17 50
Adelaide United 27 14 9 15 46
Wellington Phoenix 27 14 9 10 46
Melbourne City FC 27 9 10 -5 35
Brisbane Roar 27 10 13 -1 34
Perth Glory 27 14 5 10 50
Central Coast Mariners 27 5 14 -24 23
View all
 
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