Australian footballers have continued to lend their hand to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic through the #PlayForLives campaign. Sydney FC’s Ally Green has been a role model for her fellow athletes through her work for the campaign, while Alex Chidiac, Rhyan Grant and PFA staff have assisted with charity causes including Addison Road Centre, Wayside Chapel, Variety and ‘Welcoming Sport’.

Last week, W-League and Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who sits on the PFA Executive, and Western United’s midfielder Sebastian Pasquali provided a helping hand to hundreds of refugees living in Melbourne who have been disadvantaged by the coronavirus.

Like many footballers, the pair have had their careers disrupted by the coronavirus-imposed hiatus in global football, but have used the opportunity to team up for good and help the Refugee Communities Association of Australia (RCAA).

Williams and Pasquali connected with the RCAA through the PFA, via the #PlayForLives campaign, which is an initiative driven by PFA Life Member and former Chair, Craig Foster.

Recognising the need to help those acutely impacted by the coronavirus, RCAA is currently providing food distribution packages to refugees, asylum seekers and international students in Victoria who hold temporary visas and do not qualify for government payments during the pandemic.

Secretary of the RCAA Parsu Sharma-Luital said the donations would assist groups who currently had no income, limited transport options and who faced challenges accessing support due to language barriers. 

“They have lost work, they have no money, they’re on a temporary visa and not eligible to receive any support from the government and then their friends and family who were helping them have also lost their jobs,” Sharma-Luital said.

“It is an example of how the multicultural community can come together and help during a time of need.” 

The RCAA have established a COVID-19 Relief Taskforce alongside the Help Himalayan Youth Foundation, Victorian Multicultural Commission and Victoria Police.

Williams and Pasquali helped to prepare the boxes with basic groceries and ingredients, including rice, eggs and flour, and prepared them for delivery to the various communities, including Burmese, Iranian, Rohingya, Nepalese, Assyrian and Chaldean communities 

Pasquali has also recently engaged with ‘Welcoming Sport’ during the A-League’s hiatus – an initiative that embraces the power of sport as a vehicle for inclusion, opportunity and creating a sense of belonging for all members of the community, including, recently arrived migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum.

The Western United midfielder said he was pleased his actions had an impact on his community.

“The opportunity to lend a helping hand to an organisation providing supplies for less fortunate multicultural communities was a great experience and one that made me realise that any help can go a long way,” Pasquali said.

To donate food, money or second hand computers or laptops to help refugee families learn from home, visit the Refugee Communities Association of Australia website. The RCAA is an independent refugee-led peak national advocacy organisation providing a unified voice for people with a lived refugee experience in Australia.