Socceroos duo Thomas Deng and Awer Mabil made their international debuts on Monday against Kuwait. The two put in impressive displays – Mabil scoring his first international goal in the 88th minute. The sight of Mabil celebrating with Deng after his goal was beautiful.

A key point to come out of their international debuts is that both Deng and Mabil can be role models for younger African refugees in Australia.

Knowing that football has no barriers, a whole generation could be inspired and come through the ranks after seeing Deng and Mabil perform at international level with the Socceroos.

That is the beauty of football – no matter your nationality or beliefs, it’s the world’s language.

Both were born into a South Sudanese family before arriving in Australia as refugee children.

However, they are now set to be in Graham Arnold’s plans for the upcoming Asian Cup, showcasing the strength of Australian multiculturalism, in an age where racism is unfortunately still present.

Their story has gone worldwide, with former French International and Manchester United player Patrice Evra praising them on social media.

“An amazing story. Don’t let anything stop you achieving your dreams. Doesn’t matter where you come from always try your best and hard work will pay off #ilovethisgame,” Evra said on Twitter.

Deng currently plays for Melbourne Victory in the A-League, while Mabil is contracted to Danish side FC Midtjylland. Strong performances in the Asian Cup could see them move to more prestigious clubs.

The pair will most likely get another opportunity to shine in Australia’s upcoming two friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon.

Being home matches, fellow young Africans will get the chance to see the them in action at a decent time. Hopefully we will be able to see more on the international stage who have similar stories.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com