From refugee to A-league footballer

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Playing against his former club Spirit FC in the 2017/18 season. Photo: Nigel Owen
The success story of The Western Sydney Wanderers is the epitome of the new, indefatigable spirit that defines the Western Sydney region today. Bianca Exall spoke to one of the team’s professional players, WSU student Abraham Majok.

Born in 1998 in the Kakuma refugee camp of Kenya, Abraham Majok had anything but a pleasant upbringing and childhood. “My childhood was pretty tough to be honest. I moved out to Australia when I was roughly five or six years old. “Coming to a country where you are not familiar with everything, you have to learn a new language surrounded by different people,” said Abraham.

Growing up through his teenage years and maturing into a young adult in Western Sydney, the one thing that stuck with Abraham was his love for football. “I grew up mostly with my grandma … My mother put myself and my two brothers into the sport. I was roughly eight or nine years old  It’s something that I kind of fell in love with, the first time I started playing and watching others play. Something just struck within me that made me just love the sport more,” he said.

Abraham’s career progressed quickly. Debuting his career with Spirit Football Club in 2014, and playing for Mt Druitt Town Rangers FC since 2016, Abraham was given the opportunity to sign a two-year senior contract in May 2017 with the Western Sydney Wanderers FC after playing for the Wanderers Youth Team in 2016. Abraham says that there was no defining moment that motivated him to turn his weekend sport into a career, but there was a gradual process throughout his younger years to where he is today.

“From Mt Druitt, that’s when I got myself exposure because I played with the Wanderers Youth Team at the same time. I was training with them during the week and then played with Mt Druitt on the weekends. In that year, they invited me to start training with them,” Abraham said.

As professional athletes are at their level of peak performance before their mid-20s, Abraham pushed aside a full-time education to a pursue career in sport. “When the season finished, they offered me a contract and I just said to myself that an opportunity like this does not always come around so just take it,” Abraham said. “I just tried to bust my arse off and work as much as I can to try to push further and I ended up working hard enough to get a contract in the first place.”

Abraham says that throughout his teenage years, he never thought he could make it to where he is today as dreams of becoming a professional athlete do not always meet with their reality. Nevertheless, he says that he could not do it without the support of his friends and family. “Football for me was not a big major thing that I was always focused on … it wasn’t always a big priority to me. You come to the realisation when you are constantly told by your parents that not everyone makes it and that you got to have other things in life,” said Abraham. “But when you have people around you that support you a lot and friends and family that give you the motivation, that definitely does motivate you to keep pushing even when you just want to give up.”

Growing up around the world of sport, Abraham says that football has taught him values and lessons that he can take back into his life outside of soccer. “You tend to find that not everything has a happy ending in soccer because you don’t win every game you play. But you have to be humble enough to accept that, and still shake the opponents hand that just beat you, and in that way you tend to respect those people around you. It just teaches you how to manage your time, how to talk to people and how to communicate,” he added.

As football is essentially Abraham’s job, while training two times a day from Monday to Saturday this pre-season, he says that football is an escape from all things negative. “Soccer is not really stressful because to be honest, for us, it’s like a getaway from all other things. For us, it makes us think about something else that’s happening around us when we’re playing. “We never worry about anything else but the ball at our feet and just what we’re doing in that moment,” he explained.

Abraham has also been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to play soccer at an international level, something he would not have expected growing up.“I have always watched football from overseas. I just grew up in that sort of family household. Even when I played against Arsenal, it was so unreal because I was playing against guys that I have always seen on TV,” Abraham said. “I thought to myself, ‘Like wow, they’re right here’.”

Currently studying for a Bachelor of Business and Commerce at WSU, Abraham was inspired to further his education through part-time study. “I am majoring in accounting and started that degree in 2015 … my uncle was studying at the same university and got his master’s degree in engineering,” Abraham said.

Coming up to his last season contracted with the Western Sydney Wanderers, Abraham is continually focusing on improving his skills, while pursuing future goals and aspirations through education.
“My plans from here are to keep working hard, especially with soccer … and try to do as much as I can with university as well, to study hard and try to graduate,” Abraham said light-heartedly. “My focus is to work hard to get myself a second contract. I got a big year where I have to put in a lot of effort and to show the coach that I want to be here.”

 

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