The measure is aimed at aiding humanitarian efforts in Europe through the United Nations refugee agency and Football United, a local not-for-profit organisation that uses the sport to promote social causes.
David Gallop, President of the Australia FA, announced the ‘Football Cares’ initiative at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra earlier this month.
The Australian public will be asked to give donations to the international or domestic part of the campaign. The domestic element will involve providing assistance to the 12,000 Syrian refugees Australia will take in from the start of next year.
David Gallop said: “We will be working with Football United to make sure that there are football drop-in centres, that there are coaching clinics, and that football gets behind these people as they come into Australia.
“It’s a fantastic effort. It’s just one of the ways that football shows what it can do in the community.
“When we recently played Bangladesh in Perth, our team had up to 15 cultural backgrounds just in the Socceroos. It’s a sign of that extraordinary diversity that football embraces.”
Afghan refugee and Football United ambassador Shegofa Hassani offered similar sentiments: “Like all refugees, there are many barriers you face coming to a new country. You have challenges such as language barriers, cultural barriers, but the one that most face is isolation. And what I discovered was, through football, I was able to overcome that barrier.
“But, initially, my family wasn’t too fond of a female, a Muslim girl, playing football, so I faced that challenge. And through Football United, I convinced my parents to let me play football. And over the years, I’ve come a long way. I started off as a participant. Eventually, I became a youth leader and a coach. And in 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to represent Australia in the Pacific Youth and Sports Conference, as well as the 2014 Football for Hope teams. I was captaining that team.”