Refugee Mabil goes back to his roots on a mercy mission

While his teammates flock to warmer climes during the winter break, Denmark-based Awer Mabil is also jetting south - bearing gifts for the inhabitants of the Kenyan refugee camp where he grew up.

Esbjerg fB vs AaB Aalborg - Danish Alka Superliga

Awer Mabil celebrates a Esbjerg fB victory Source: FrontzoneSport

The Former Adelaide United flier - on a season-long loan from Midjylland to fellow Superliga side Esbjerg - was liberated from the Kakuma camp at the age of 10 for a new life in Australia, with his mother and siblings, after his father perished during the civil conflict of South Sudan.

The refugee turned Young Socceroo hasn't forgotten the hardships and horrors of his formative years, dedicating himself to fueling the hopes and dreams of the many thousands still trapped in Kakuma and other camps across the world.

Along with older brother Awer Bul, ex-Reds teammate Osama Malik and Adelaide businessman Ian Smith, he formed the Barefoot to Boots foundation last year and this is his fourth odyssey back to his roots.

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Mabil and Smith will be laden with boots, balls and shirts, plus laptops for schools and even incubators for hospitals on his latest mission.

"It's quite emotional for me every time I go," said the 20 year-old.

"We want to help out in any way we can and we want to spread the work of this foundation around the world.

"It means so much to me because the camp made me who I am.

"I have seen things there that a child should never see and we just want to do our bit to show kids there is a way out."

While football seems insignificant when compared to the challenges faced by the 180,000 souls still seeking an escape from the confines of Kakuma, Mabil credits the game with providing him with a platform to help.

"I feel like I have achieved a little bit in life and football is responsible for that," added Mabil.

"I have met people in the game like (former Reds board member) Ian Smith, whose help has been huge, especially with his contacts at Qantas, who are also supporting us.

"When I go back it reminds me of the great opportunity Australia gave me to fulfill my dreams.

"The people in the camps are just like the rest of us and just need an opportunity to follow their dreams. That's what keeps me going back ... the chance to give them some hope.

"I tell them 'I was from here and you can make it anywhere if you believe strong enough and set your goals high'."

Back on the football field, Mabil can look back on four goals and four assists during his loan spell to date, and he says he is playing with a smile on his face again.

"I am enjoying my time at Esbjerg, and we've managed to get off the bottom of the table going into the break," he added.

"I just want to do my bit to help my team ... and I am really thankful for what I have now."




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3 min read
Published 16 December 2016 at 11:26am
By Dave Lewis