When Kamal Ibrahim formed One Ball, he had two objectives in mind.

“Overall, our program is designed to not make the best soccer player but the best human being all around,” he tells the PFA.

One Ball is a community program designed for children and young adults, which provides opportunities to all people especially those from a culturally and linguistic background across Melbourne to play soccer in a social setting.

The program’s founder, Ibrahim, understands the power of football and how it shaped him.

Ibrahim migrated to Australia from Ethiopia with his family at the age of 12 to escape the country’s civil war. When he arrived, he couldn’t speak English and struggled to acclimatise, but his passion for football helped him communicate and connect with his new community.

He went on to make a handful of appearances for Melbourne Heart and represent Australia at youth team level, before forging a successful career in NPL Victoria, where he won the 2015 Gold Medal for his performances with Port Melbourne Sharks – the club he started his Australian football journey with as a child.

Now, Ibrahim wants to give back.


“I said I wanted to start my own thing because I have my own story and the different way I wanted to coach because I didn’t want to follow on just the talented players, because at the end of the day only a few of them make it,” he said.

“I started One Ball trying to not only help the best players, but the overall community. Kids who have never played soccer before, kids who have the passion but they can’t play for a soccer club because they will be told they aren’t good forward or who aren’t good enough to play for an NPL club or a community club, so One Ball was established for that reason.

“Anyone can come to One Ball regardless of your skin colour, religion or your abilities so I wanted to create that environment where it’s open to everyone regardless of your soccer ability because we wanted to focus on the holistic approach of the kid. Probably one of the kids are going to make it so we wanted to make sure we had the program that supported them outside of soccer as well.

“As human beings when we realise belong in the community, we feel apart of the society, then we can achieve things. Every kid who comes to our program gets a uniform just like they are part of their soccer club, they feel like they can belong at that club.

“They have a sense that this is their club. They have a name, then through that we teach them soccer skills, then if we see their soccer skills, we can offer them to a bigger club where they can develop and the club can sponsor them.

“I want one ball to reach more kids; kids who come from low income families, definitely who doesn’t have access to football and talent can come from anywhere. So if the entry level is expensive, then we’re missing out developing good soccer players from an early age. So I want One Ball to be statewide and and to reach as many children as possible.”

One Ball is one of the organisations supported by the PFA’s Footballers’ Trust, which provides a platform for players to contribute directly to the causes that inspire them.

The Trust was established by the Socceroos just prior to the 2019 Asian Cup, and was spearheaded by Mark Milligan at the time.

Since then, it’s grown significantly, partnering with over 10 different initiatives, which continues the work of PFA members who have taken on positions of social leadership, creating an opportunity for the players to directly and positively impact their communities.

“I’ve known Kamal for a significant period of time and more importantly, Kamal has had discussions with the PFA for a number of years around the work he wanted to do,” PFA co-CEO Beau Busch said.

“I think what the PFA has always been really clear on is that we want to ensure that we not only have a thriving industry, but the industry actually positively influences Australia and that’s the exact point that Kamal is doing, the work he’s doing through One Ball is ensuring access to the sport, is ensuring that young kids across the country that otherwise maybe wouldn’t particularly here in Victoria be able to get into football can.

“It’s reducing the barriers around that and it’s ensuring that football is a genuine force for good so come on someone that were really inspired by the work he’s doing and it’s a real honour for us to be able to support that and play a small role in making sure we can have an even greater impact.”