Former child soldier in refugee soccer friendly
ON THURSDAY visiting author and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year Deng Thiak Adut will take to the soccer field in Lismore.
Adut will be a special guest player in the 10th annual African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match on Thursday, 12 October.
He will also line-up with local refugees in the African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match, which began in 2007 as a way to build relationships between new refugees and local government employees.
The 2017 African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match will include a community gold coin donation BBQ and spectators are very welcome to attend, with all proceeds going to the John Mac Foundation, which was established in 2016 following the death of Adut's brother John, who was killed in South Sudan while doing humanitarian aid work in 2014.
It was John Mac who helped his young brother escape the army and flee to a Kenyan refugee camp in 1998 before they both came to Australia two years later.
The John Mac Foundation has a scholarship fund to assist people from refugee backgrounds in Australia to access higher education, and there are future plans to support the development of a fledgling legal justice system in the young nation of South Sudan.
A criminal lawyer from Sydney, Mr Adut was kidnapped from his family in South Sudan at the age of six and forced to fight in the civil war as a child soldier.
He escaped to Australia at age 14, where he taught himself to read and later graduated from university and said his ultimate goal is to return to South Sudan to prosecute those responsible for the conscription of child soldiers.
Lismore's Mayor Isaac Smith said he's delighted Adut will participate in the soccer-friendly.
"The idea was to try and ensure refugees felt comfortable accessing essential services and approaching the local council, and the world game seemed the perfect way to build relationships and break down barriers,” Cr Smith said.
"It has become an annual tradition and one that is hotly contested each year (and) Council has lost three years running and we are determined to reclaim the trophy this year.”
Cr Smith said it's ging to be an exciting game.
"We are so honoured to have Adut here to play with us, but it doesn't mean we will be going easy on the All Stars,”he said.
"We are playing to win and competition will be fierce.”
Adut is also in Lismore to give an author talk at Lismore City Hall about his book Songs of a War Boy, which tells his incredible true story.
The 2017 African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match is on Thursday, 12 October at 5.15pm at Richards Oval (next to Lismore Shopping Square). Everyone is welcome.