Refugee tennis coach 'will never give up'

Refugee tennis coach 'will never give up'

SBS World News Radio: It's a long way from Aleppo in Syria to Liverpool in Sydney's west, but that's the journey Ashod Paloulian made with his family as refugees in search of a new life.

His journey is all the more remarkable in that just nine months after arriving in Australia, he's one step away from starting his own tennis coaching business.

Ashod Paloulian began playing tennis aged seven.

Now 33, his chances of reaching the heights as a professional may be behind him.

But after undergoing a three-day community coaching course, he's now setting his sights on a six-month course that could open the door to a new career.

And it's tennis that also underpins his own philosophy for dealing with life's ups and downs.

"Life is for me its like tennis match. You must fight for every point, if you lose the point you must try again."

Since arriving in Australia, Mr Paloulian's settlement services advisors put him in touch with Tennis Australia.

And they've been hugely impressed by what they saw.

Sam Bradshaw is the Tennis New South Wales Coach Development Coordinator.

"I've never been a part of anything like it. Just to hear the stories is inspirational for me. He sees tennis as a chance to give back to Australia, as a country that's given him a chance to survive, so it's been incredible."

Ashod Paloulian and his wife, Sarin, have two children and are expecting a third child in December.

Having a growing family is one of the driving forces behind his push to develop his own tennis coaching business.

He applies the same techniques he uses on the court for coaching when he's encouraging his own children.

"Keep going and try to do more and I always tell my kids in the court when they are playing tennis, keep moving, don't stop, yeah. Because I have two kids I always work hard with them to make them tennis players, stars in Australia. I work hard every day."

Like his own attitude to life, Ashod Paloulian has warmed to the fighters in the ranks of top professional tennis players.

His inspiration is not the silky skills of Roger Federer, but more the attitude Scot Andy Murray produces on court.

"Always looking for Andy Murray, because I love Andy Murray. Yeah he's fighting for every point, I love that."

Fighting for every point, and fighting for a better life for his family.

Ashod Paloulian's journey and early success since arriving from Syria has earned the admiration of his mother and father, who remain in Aleppo.

"They are very happy and proud of me. Because they say to me it's your dream, go on!"

And if his early efforts are anything to go by, Ashod Paloulian may go a lot further, showing people that wherever they come from, and however tough their journeys have been, success is only one point - and one day at a time - away.

 

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