Aliir Aliir

Aliir Aliir

Sydney Swans AFL Player, 21 years old

My earliest memory of my life in Kenya is my family and playing sport. Being with family, surrounded by family and cared for by my family. Kicking a ball with friends and family, on the brown earth in Kenya to a field of green grass in Australia. From a refugee camp to Sydney, Newcastle, Perth and now back to Sydney playing for the Swans, family and sport, is and will always be the biggest thing to me.

It was in 2002 when I arrived in Sydney from a refugee camp in Kenya. Arriving in Sydney, I remembered looking up at the buildings and all the faces of the people. My family wanted to move to Australia, for better education and for a better life. We didn’t know English and I didn’t know anything about Australia, not even that it existed or knew what it was! As for AFL, no one in Kenya knows what it is.

I don’t remember much about Kenya. I was only little but I do remember family and sport. And I guess that memory has always followed me no matter where I am.

We didn’t stay long in Sydney, about three months and then we moved to Newcastle. I didn’t speak much English but that didn’t really bother me. I adapted quickly, and I made friends through sport… soccer, basketball and footy. It wasn’t language that connected me with the kids or made me part of the community, it was sport.

From Newcastle, we moved to Queensland where I have more family, and it was again through sport that I found my way. I was pretty good at most sports growing up, but I liked basketball, soccer and AFL.

At around 17, I was playing so much sport that it came to a point where I just needed to focus in on one. AFL seemed to be the right fit, it allowed me to be close to family and that is what means the most to me. When I missed out on the 2012 AFL draft I decided to move to Perth where I have more family. A year later I was drafted in the Sydney Swans club, and I have been there ever since.

Running out on the field with the boys, and spending time training with my mates is what I like most. Being part of a footy club is just another extension of my family. There are lots of things that I love about Australia but if I had to say one thing, it’s how Australia welcomed me and my family.

Australia has provided us a better life. I truly feel blessed to be here and to have family around.