In the latest piece showcasing organisations supported by the PFA’s Footballers’ Trust, Tom Yabio of Football Empowerment discusses why he establish the organisation and what they hope to achieve through using football as a vehicle for good in the community.

When Tom Yabio founded Football Empowerment, his vision for the organisation was clear.

The organisation’s goal is to empower young people through sport and in their words: “dream bigger for the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in the Westside” of Melbourne.


“The most important thing within Football Empowerment is to keep kids engaged,” he said.

“I think football can teach you a lot of things, it’s not just about become a professional footballer, it’s education, it’s employment. But what you do within soccer can teach you a lot of values, but you need to have a drive within and you need to stay connected to the community and good influencers around through football empowerment, that’s what we try to do.

“We try to connect people to have a drive to do something and just keep them busy, the most important thing is being busy.”

Yabio – who has been living in Australia for almost 30 years – moved to Adelaide from a refugee camp in a town called Umrakuba in Sudan. He moved to Melbourne in 2007, and it was there where he founded Football Empowerment nine years later.

“We give back to young people using football as a vehicle to engage and develop these different avenues,” he added.

“Why it started is purely because great people before me did it. There’s great examples of players, even past players here in Victoria, when I settled to Victoria [weren’t] getting the opportunities they [should have been] getting.

“It wasn’t because they weren’t good enough. But it’s about what can we do to break that cycle and create pathways for them.”

For the last few years, Football Empowerment has hosted a Victorian iteration of the African Nations Cup in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

The tournament has brought together a number of talented African-Australian footballers to take part in the tournament, while hundreds upon hundreds of fans have poured into the venues to watch the matches – particularly on Grand Final day – which is showcased in the feature.

“I know in Adelaide it’s (the African Nations Cup) become amazing and for me it was like why can’t we have it here?” he said.

“For us, we started African Nations Cup in Victoria in 2018 and for us is we can do the same thing and it’s about bringing everyone together just purely on football.

“Different community, different ethnicity, background and so on and just enjoying the game and just and there’s two amazing teams in the Grand Finals showing it off. That’s what we shouldn’t be seen every weekend.

“At the end of the day, the players that we supported in the past and we continue to support, they should be higher, it’s about why aren’t they higher, how can we help them get to where they ultimately need to be? And for us, our ultimate goal is to see someone playing for the Socceroos and we can do it, the players are there. It gives us motivation to continue doing what we do.”

Football Empowerment is one of the organisations supported by the PFA’s Footballers’ Trust, which have provided a platform for players to contribute directly to the causes that inspire them.

“We were fortunate enough to go along to a Football Empowerment event… [and] we were really blown away by the impact this sport was having on that community, but also importantly the impact that they were having on the sport as well and they were actually really enriching the sport,” PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said.

“With many of these groups that are trying to have sustained impact through football, they’re constantly having to chase money… and that takes your attention away from being able to have such a positive impact in the work they’re actually doing, day in, day out.

“So the Trust has been really important for that. We’re really proud to be able to support the work that the guys and girls at Football Empowerment are doing.”