Auburn United in hope  

At the end of each day they head down to the park and strap on their boots.

They call themselves Auburn United FC - two dozen players from around the globe, bonded by their passion for soccer.

"I love football," said Mohammad Jawad Mohammad Jawad. "You could say it is my life right now."

Like many of his teammates, Mr Jawad, 26, is an asylum seeker, prevented from working while on a bridging visa. Training sessions and any social matches they can organise help keep the players occupied.

"We play every day because we don't have any other activity," Mr Jawad said. "We have to start from zero here in Australia. Everything is changed here. But soccer is the same."

Essa Khan began coaching the players after he found them in Auburn Park one evening, kicking a ball in the dark. His family, like Mr Jawad's, had fled the turmoil of Afghanistan for Pakistan, where he coached a youth team.

Both men came to Australia alone but have found a second family within Auburn United.

"We have an uncertain future, but this soccer gives us some kind of hope," Mr Khan said through a translator.

Mr Khan said the players had many worries, but "when we play soccer, we feel so relaxed. It stops us thinking about our past, the experiences we had in our home country."

They gather most evenings on a pitch made for cricket, not soccer. Players from Nepal, Turkey, Tajikistan and Africa - refugees, asylum seekers, students and new residents - call to each other in a variety of languages, with English the common tongue.

Mr Jawad said they would love to join a club and play in an organised competition, building relationships in the community.

"This is a multicultural country so we want to meet [all] kinds of people," he said.

But with so many players unable to work, the team could not afford registration fees. A funding partnership between councils, the government and local clubs in the Granville District, which covered fees for teams like Auburn United, collapsed about five years ago.

The generosity of the community, however, may yet offer them a chance to play.

Settlement Services International, which provides case management and support to about half the players, has been organising donations for the team. Chief executive Violet Roumeliotis said $6500 had been received so far.

"That money will enable us to register most of the team members," she said. Further donations would go towards equipment and establishing a sports fund.

Clubs govern their own registration costs and procedures and Granville District general manager Michael Briggs said clubs may have the authority to consider registration fees on an individual basis.

Ms Roumeliotis said there were hundreds of people in the refugee and asylum-seeker communities who would embrace the chance to join soccer and other sporting competitions.

"We would love to talk to football clubs about setting up outreach programs to help get these people involved locally in the sport they love, and really take part in an Australian way of life."   

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