Holroyd Rangers welcome asylum seeker soccer team

REFUGEES and young men on bridging visas seeking asylum were welcomed into the Holroyd Rangers soccer club last week.

About a dozen men living in western Sydney were registered in the Granville Open District Soccer Football Association (GDSFA) all age men's competition after club president John Nash put his hand up to welcome the players.

The division 11 team, which will play its first match on April 5, was formed after Mr Nash saw a story in the Sydney Morning Herald about asylum seekers welcomed into the Newington Gunners Soccer Club in February.

"When I spoke to the other committee members they just said 'run with it'. Everyone was on board," Mr Nash said.

"We've got great fields and great facilities and a lot more capacity to have a lot more teams and I thought this is a great opportunity to help out people in the community who are less well off."

The club and players were linked by not-for-profit organisation Settlement Services International (SSI) which provides humanitarian services and asylum seeker assistance in NSW.

SSI chief executive officer Violet Roumeliotis said refugees and asylum seekers living in western Sydney had approached the organisation for help finding a club.

"Those who are on bridging visas are unable to work here, so they do not have the money needed to pay for things like registration, boots and equipment," Ms Roumeliotis said.

The team will kick off with a friendly pre-season game against the Wetherill Park Westerners on Saturday.

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