Annual soccer match brings community closer
IT'S the world against Lismore City Council (LCC) next week when the African Stars team takes on LCC's Lismore Legends in an annual soccer match that's changing the face of our community. Leaving their desks behind, council staff and councillors will don their soccer uniforms for the fifth year running and take to Lismore's Crozier Oval on Wednesday, November 7, for a fun, but serious game of soccer against some of Lismore's refugee community.
African Stars' Andrew Reech and Adeyemi Johnson are not telling what their secret strategy for winning is, but LCC councillor Neil Marks said council has picked up its game and recruited some of the more sporty employees onto the Lismore Legends team.
"We are getting rid of some of the soft, wussy workers and bringing in the tough, outdoors staff," Cr Marks laughed.
"The annual match is not really about winning and losing, but about creating a light-hearted, friendly social event to allow the Lismore community and the refugees from South Sudan, Congo and Sierra Leone to build relationships and get to know each other," Cr Marks said. "The game really helps people interact and integrate with each other and gives them confidence. The Africans feel secure and they can go out into the community and say hello to people."
President of the local African Association, Adeyemi Johnson, is nearly 50 and used to play soccer at a very high level in Sierra Leonea before he came to Australia.
"I send photos to my family and they can't believe I'm playing with guys older than me," Adeyemi laughed. "I love my friends here; Lismore is my home now and I've never encountered racism the whole time I've been here... We are all from different countries, but we live as one community."
Andrew Reech is captain of the African Stars and said the council employees played like champions last year when they won the match against the Africans for the first time.
"We are optimistic we will this year and we'll give it all we can," Mr Reech said. "Council is turning into a formidable team; we used to win with a landslide victory but the scores are getting closer."
Gates to Crozier Oval open at 4.30pm with a social game for non-players at 5.15pm and the main game from 6pm. Entry is free and there will be a barbecue and a coffee van for spectators.