Australian refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has accepted a new role with Football Victoria (FV), with his incredible story set to inspire the State’s diverse football communities.
Al-Araibi, who rose to global prominence following his detention in a Thailand prison for over 70 days, was unveiled as FV’s latest employee on Friday during the organisation’s Community in Business function at Peninsula Docklands in Melbourne.
The Pascoe Vale defender was eased into his new part-time role as ‘Community and Human Rights Advocate’ through a joint endeavour between FV and Professional Footballers Australia (the PFA) two weeks ago and will formally start on Monday.
Al-Araibi, who became an Australian citizen in March, said he was delighted with the new opportunity to inspire Victoria’s community footballers, help players from diverse backgrounds and educate people on his experience.
“This job will help me because I love to share my story with people,” Al-Araibi said.
“My story is about how football and sport helped a player; it’s a big example of the power of football and how it can change your life. The job will also help me speak more English and it will help me to maybe be a coach in the future after I finish playing.
“For many people like me, when they come to Australia it is a new country, a new life and for those people I want to be able to help them, to give them advice, to help them play football, help them with anything and for their future.”
The role will be part of FV’s outreach program which aims to engage Victoria’s diverse, multicultural communities, with Al-Araibi’s own personal story providing a lever to further support the development and prosperity of clubs and the exponential growth of the football ecosystem.
Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos welcomed Al-Araibi to his new role on Friday.
“We’re delighted to welcome Hakeem on board at Football Victoria,” Filopoulos said. “We have no doubt that with his mindset and determination he will contribute positively to our community program, while the opportunity will help him develop into a vital member of Victoria’s football community. “Football is a sport for all and Hakeem’s unique experience embodies that; no matter where you are from and what your background, you can use the power of football to make a positive impact.”
Al-Araibi will be a key representative at community football clubs, gala days, youth events and multicultural football tournaments, as well as appearing as FV’s Multicultural Round ambassador.
The 25-year-old will also be the public face of opportunities that arise within the community and human rights sector and special Victorian Government events.
“Hakeem’s courage is inspiring and it’s our hope he can develop into a great leader within our diverse community,” PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said.