Dalin Koro, 16
When I was in Iraq I remember two bombs. The first bomb was in my child care school. I was young. All the glasses [windows] were broken. My dad used to have a bakery shop. My parents, they were close by but they couldn’t come because they couldn’t cross the roads. They were so scared. I was so scared too. That was the first bomb that happened. They were crying, but I’m still alive.
Then we went to Lebanon. We were a 21-people family living in a one- or two-bedroom refugee house. There were lots of cockroaches and we were all scared. We didn’t have enough money.
Since I was young I really liked playing football but back then in Iraq in my village they would say "oh she’s a boy and she’s ruining all her girly things." They would discriminate against you. In my village there was not even one girl who would play soccer. I used to play with the boys and they would say "you’re not a boy, go away. Soccer is not for girls."
When I came to Australia they didn’t say that – even if you were a girl you could play soccer and it was all right.
When I came to Australia they didn’t say that – even if you were a girl you could play soccer and it was all right. I’ve been with Football United for three years.
For the first year I didn’t tell my parents I was playing. There wasn’t enough players so we used to play with boys. My parents would be worried, like thinking they are stronger than you, or they would do things that would hurt you or something. In the beginning my family didn’t like that I played with boys. My brother used to stay with me and I would play with him after school.
It was amazing. The players and coaches helped me with everything. They helped with confidence to do what I want, to volunteer and to overcome my challenges. They taught me how to be strong.
At first the boys weren’t giving me the ball. Every time they weren’t passing the ball and I used to get bored and say "what!". Then they made a rule – you have to pass the ball to a girl. If you don’t pass the ball to a girl you can’t score.
When I first came to Australia, I felt alone and that no one cares about me. I felt like I want to go back to my village. They are happy there and they are involved with everyone. I was shy - now you see me in school I greet everyone. I introduce myself and I ask them what they need. I have a lot more confidence.
Now I’m in a Football United mentoring program for new arrivals – I help them. It’s like when new people arrive and need help with their homework. Before I was thinking of helping people but I didn’t know how.
I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t care what other people say. I just do it.
I saw Iraqi people from my village. I see them. I help them and they help me. They helped me when I first arrived with the language when I couldn’t speak English. I’m proud of myself.
I understand their problems – I say to them “do you have anything you want to share with me?” And they do.
I want to finish school and go to uni. I want to be a doctor. It’s very hard to be a doctor. I’m studying nursing and midwifery at TAFE during school so I will get a bit of experience. I will go step by step. I don’t have to go straight away into medicine.
Even Iraqi families who used to live with me in my village say to me now, "you are a very strong girl! Good luck! You made it to Russia and you followed your dreams". The old people they say, "you are doing good" and support me. My family supports me and says to me, "you’re going to be successful".
I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t care what other people say. I just do it. Even back then in Iraq I used to play with boys, I don’t care what they say. I just get a ball and play. Even if they say, "you’re a boy", I say, "OK, I’m a boy".
I don’t really care what they say. I just follow my dreams.
Dalin Koro is a soccer player and volunteer with Football United - a mentoring sports program for refugee and migrant youth. She is one of four youth chosen to be part of a Football United delegation to Russia to participate in the FIFA Foundation festival, promoting cultural diversity and fair play through football.
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