'We are all one': Team Syria shines at community football event


It's grown into one of the biggest annual community football tournaments in Sydney. Now the Australian Lebanese Football Association has included a junior competition. And Syria's recent run to the World Cup playoff against the Socceroos inspired a team with Syrian heritage to enter.

Twenty-two teams flew the flag for their countries at a community football event that has come a long way since it began four years ago with just four teams.

Despite national pride being on the line, the biggest message was one of harmony.

Team Syria coach Spero Semann said: "It doesn't matter where you're from, what race you are, which religion you are - we are all one."

Sideline view of Syria's debut at the Arab Bank Cup in Sydney
Syrian substitutes, supporters and coaching staff watch the action unfold

And that message is getting through.

So much so that tournament president Remy Wehbe wants to double the number of junior teams next year to 12.

Wehbe says the senior part of the tournament is the bedrock, but the kids is where he wants it to grow.

"We'll give more chance to the juniors," he told SBS World News.

Remy Wehbe [left] and a Team Lebanon supporter
Remy Wehbe [left] and a Team Lebanon supporter enjoy the action.

Vietnam won the inaugural junior event, beating Lebanon 3-0 in the final.

And Syria secured a third placed finish with a 4-1 over Nepal.

Team captain Kenny Mahmoud was proud his side did so well after entering the tournament at the last minute.

"We've played very good and hopefully we'll do this next year as well," he said.

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