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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 4 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs NEW Stats
SYD 1 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs PER 2 Stats
BRI 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs VIC 1 Stats
Sat, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
SYD 3 vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs NEW 1 Stats
PER 3 vs BRI 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
VIC 5 vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4 vs NEW 1 Stats
ADE 2 vs PER Stats
Wed, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
PER 2 vs NEW 1 Stats
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2 vs CCM Stats
Mon, 03 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs WEL Stats
Wed, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs BRI 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
ADE vs SYD Stats
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs VIC 2 Stats
BRI 1 vs MCY 3 Stats
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs BRI 4 Stats
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
SYD vs VIC Stats
PER 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2 vs CCM 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs BRI Stats
PER 2 vs WEL 1 Stats
Sat, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs NEW 1 Stats
MCY 1 vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs ADE 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3 vs ADE 2 Stats
Sat, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs PER 1 Stats
WSW 1 vs SYD 1 Stats
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 5 vs MCY 1 Stats
NEW 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1 vs PER 2 Stats
Fri, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 07 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs BRI Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs BRI 1 Stats
PER 2 vs NEW Stats
Sat, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs CCM 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs SYD 3 Stats
Wed, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 3 vs MCY 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs VIC Stats
PER 4 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 21 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 2 Stats
Wed, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1 vs WSW 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs PER 1 Stats
SYD vs ADE 3 Stats
Sat, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3 vs BRI 3 Stats
VIC 1 vs NEW Stats
Sun, 28 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1 vs WSW Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Tue, 30 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 2 vs MCY 5 Stats
BRI vs SYD Stats
Wed, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs WEL 3 Stats
Thu, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM Stats
Fri, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1 vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Sat, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs NEW Stats
Sun, 04 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3 vs BRI Stats
CCM 2 vs MCY Stats
Mon, 05 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 1 vs ADE 2 Stats
Tue, 06 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Sat, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 7 vs NEW Stats
CCM 1 vs SYD 5 Stats
Sun, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
PER 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 01 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Mon, 02 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 3 vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1 vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
VIC 3 vs MCY Stats
PER 1 vs SYD 3 Stats
Sun, 08 FebTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2 vs WEL Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs BRI 2 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MCY Stats
NEW 1 vs WSW 1 Stats
SYD 3 vs VIC 3 Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1 vs PER 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 4 vs CCM 2 Stats
ADE 2 vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2 vs NEW 2 Stats
MCY vs PER Stats
Wed, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 1 vs VIC 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3 vs ADE 1 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs CCM Stats
WSW 3 vs SYD 4 Stats
PER 2 vs BRI 2 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs WEL 3 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2 vs ADE Stats
VIC 1 vs PER 1 Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs MCY Stats
BRI 1 vs WSW Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Thu, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 4 vs NEW Stats
PER 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD 5 vs BRI 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs NEW 2 Stats
ADE 2 vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1 vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 1 vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2 vs CCM 1 Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY 1 vs BRI Stats
PER 3 vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs SYD 3 Stats
NEW vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
BRI 6 vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1 vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs VIC 3 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
NEW vs PER 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
VIC vs NEW 1 Stats
PER vs SYD 3 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 2 vs BRI 3 Stats
CCM 1 vs WSW Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY vs WEL Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL 3 vs CCM 2 Stats
NEW 3 vs SYD 4 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW 2 vs ADE 1 Stats
BRI vs VIC 1 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
PER 3 vs MCY 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 19:40Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
WSW vs PER 17:00Pirtek Stadium
ADE vs MCY 19:30Coopers Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs SYD 15:00Westpac Stadium
VIC vs CCM 17:00AAMI Park
View All Fixtures
Round 28
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 15:00TBC
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 15:00TBC
View All Fixtures
Round 29
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 15:00TBC
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 16:00TBC
View All Fixtures
Round 30
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
vs 16:00TBC
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A - 2014-15 - Ladder
Overall standings
Team P W L +/- Pts
Melbourne Victory 26 14 4 23 50
Sydney FC 26 13 5 16 47
Perth Glory 26 13 5 9 47
Wellington Phoenix 26 14 8 11 46
Adelaide United 26 13 9 12 43
Melbourne City FC 26 9 9 -2 35
Brisbane Roar 26 9 13 -2 31
Central Coast Mariners 26 5 13 -22 23
View all
 
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