Following the tough 1-0 win against Pascoe Vale last Friday night, a few members of the South Melbourne FC Under 20s squad joined the senior side for training on Monday night.
Seventeen-year-old Nashir Hussainy was one of those players and he looked at home with the senior playing group, joking and laughing with current Theo Marmaras medalist and star midfielder Iqi Jawadi. As training got underway, Jawadi looked over at Hussainy and nodded his head before shouting “good luck bro” to the youngster.
Remarkably, Jawadi and Hussainy have faced similar challenges and obstacles in order to be on the park together. Both were born in the 1990s in the heart of war-torn Afghanistan, a world that most Australians could not imagine. Along with their families, the boys faced life in a new Afghanistan under political and military turmoil.
The Jawadi family was the first to seek refuge in 1995, when Iqi’s mother forced her children to flee to neighboring India.
Speaking to smfc.com.au Iqi recounted his family’s journey. “It was tough… although I was only four months old when we fled Afghanistan, I couldn’t begin to imagine how hard it would have been for my mother to make that decision to move. We stayed in India for seven very tough years and then made another huge decision to come to this country and to a new life, which I am very thankful for.”
Nashir’s journey was not too dissimilar, however the Hussainy family and Nashir himself would endure five extremely tough years in Afganistan before also finding a way to a new life in Melbourne. “It was really hard for my family to come across. In Kabul, we had to leave behind our old lives and many family members as we sought a new life and new opportunities. I loved to hang out with my cousins and kick a football around back home but it was just too unsafe and we didn’t know what was going to happen next over there. The decision to move was the right choice.”
Jawadi initially did not play the world game but soon developed an appetite for it. “I didn’t really know what soccer (football) was at first but when my brother brought a ball home and we started kicking it around, I noticed that I was pretty good at playing. As I grew older and I played more, I got better and better.”
Jawadi was eventually identified by current SMFC Senior Coach Chris Taylor, who at the time was coaching the Under 15 Victorian State Team. “Before I knew it, I was playing for the NTC and the State Team under Chris Taylor,” he added with a smile on his face. “I have played under Chris ever since, firstly at Dandenong Thunder and now at South Melbourne. I am thankful for the opportunity and guidance that he has given me in my life so far. He’s an amazing guy and I don’t think enough people see this.”
Hussainy started his football journey in Melbourne joining the South Melbourne Youth program four years ago. In 2015, under the watchful eye of Under 20s coach and mentor Sasa Kolman, Hussainy has taken his game to another level. He has scored six goals in the Under 20s and become one of the key players in the team.
Chris Taylor has recognised Hussainy’s achievements and hard work so far this season by inviting him to join the senior squad at training. The hope is that Nashir will further enhance his game by training with the current PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria Champions and break into the first team squad at some stage during the second half of the season.
Speaking to smfc.com.au, Taylor was very proud seeing both Jawadi and Hussainy training together at Lakeside Stadium. “Sometimes we get too caught up in the game to actually appreciate the stories behind some of the players. Look at these two guys that have overcome adversity and are able to enjoy themselves on the pitch; to laugh, smile and enjoy the friendships made in the game. I’ve always been a coach that gives younger players a chance. I also like to assist these guys through life, so I’m elated to see both Iqi and Nashir on the pitch training and playing for a club that encourages such things to happen.”
The common theme from both players when speaking with them was the love and appreciation that they had for their families and for their decision to bring them to Australia.
When asked about their future aims and goals, both said that they wanted to play football professionally, with the main reason being to support their families and continue to make them proud.
South Melbourne FC is looking forward to the day when both Iqi Jawadi and Nashir Hussainy represent the Club in a senior match and potentially their country at some point.