Former child soldier to play in refugee soccer friendly

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Author and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year Deng Thiak Adut will be a special guest player in the 10th annual African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match on Thursday, 12 October.

Deng is a criminal lawyer from Sydney who was kidnapped from his family in South Sudan at the age of six and forced to fight in the civil war as a child soldier. He escaped to Australia at age 14, where he taught himself to read and later graduated from university. His ultimate goal is to return to South Sudan to prosecute those responsible for the conscription of child soldiers.

Deng is in Lismore to give an author talk at Lismore City Hall about his book Songs of a War Boy, which tells his incredible true story.

He will also line-up with local refugees in the African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match, which began in 2007 as a way to build relationships between new refugees and local government employees.

“The idea was to try and ensure refugees felt comfortable accessing essential services and approaching the local council, and the world game seemed the perfect way to build relationships and break down barriers,” Mayor Isaac Smith said.

“It has become an annual tradition and one that is hotly contested each year. Council has lost three years running and we are determined to reclaim the trophy this year.

“We are so honoured to have Mr Adut here to play with us, but it doesn’t mean we will be going easy on the All Stars. We are playing to win and competition will be fierce.”

The 2017 African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match will include a community BBQ and spectators are very welcome to attend. The BBQ is by gold coin and all proceeds will go to the John Mac Foundation, which was established in 2016 following the death of Deng’s brother John, who was killed in South Sudan while doing humanitarian aid work in 2014.

It was John Mac who helped his young brother Deng escape the army and flee to a Kenyan refugee camp in 1998 before they both came to Australia two years later.

The John Mac Foundation has a scholarship fund to assist people from refugee backgrounds in Australia to access higher education, and there are future plans to support the development of a fledgling legal justice system in the young nation of South Sudan.

The 2017 African All Stars vs Lismore Legends soccer match is on Thursday, 12 October at 5.15pm at Richards Oval (next to Lismore Shopping Square). Everyone is welcome.

Image: Guest player at the 2017 African All Stars versus Lismore Legends soccer match, Deng Thiak Adut.

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