Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) will provide organisational support for the African Nations Cup Victoria this January, assisting Melbourne-based charity Football Empowerment to deliver the tournament. 

Uniting Victoria’s diverse African-Australian communities since 2019, the tournament connects talented footballers from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, providing a platform for players outside of the elite system to showcase their talent and a pathway for the next generation of professional players to emerge. 

Hosted by Melbourne-based charity and PFA partner Football Empowerment, the tournament will run across two weekends, commencing Saturday 16 January, with players representing their country of origin across 16 Men’s and four Women’s teams. The tournament’s final will be held on Australia Day at Altona East Soccer Club. 

Melbourne-based PFA members and representatives will attend the tournament and provide organisational support to ensure the tournament’s success in its third consecutive year. 
Organiser, Football Empowerment’s Tom Yabio, said the tournament had not only consolidated diverse communities – with participants representing the likes of Bukino Faso, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Sudan – but provided an event that had the potential to uncover the next wave of African-Australian stars. 
“The African Nations Cup Victoria is a celebration of football and showcases some of our most talented African-Australian youth footballers and coaches,” Yabio said. “Our collective love for football unites our diverse African Australian communities and there is an incredible amount of football talent within these communities waiting to be unearthed and identified.  

“As well as using football as a vehicle to connect our African-Australian communities, we also have the ambition to grow the game of football in Australia and help funnel talent into clubs and national teams, providing an alternate pathway into professional football.” 

Variants of the African Nations Cup in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia have showcased or unearthed African-Australian players such as Ruon Tongyik (Central Coast Mariners), Thomas Deng (Socceroos/Urawa Reds), Pacifique Niyongabire (Adelaide United), Majak Mawith (former Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City FC academy player), Valentino Yuel (Newcastle Jets), Thierry Iradukunda (former Western United) and Elvis Kamsoba (Melbourne Victory), with the latter an ambassador for the 2021 event. 

PFA Co-Chief Chief Executive Beau Busch said the tournament provided a wonderful opportunity for PFA members to connect with the African-Australian community and support Football Empowerment’s initiative.  

“Over the past three years we have built an important relationship with Football Empowerment, with our professional players helping to encourage and support the growth of its tournament and programs,” Busch said. 

“In turn, Football Empowerment have provided an opportunity for the next generation of professional players to be identified, while unifying their communities.” 

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About Football Empowerment  

Established in 2016, Football Empowerment (“FE”) is a not-for-profit organisation based in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. Using soccer as a vehicle, FE run initiatives aiming to address social issues facing young people from disadvantaged communities. What makes FE unique is that the organisation was founded by a group of young people who migrated to Australia as Refugees, who continue to actively play soccer and who also reside in the western suburbs where most FE programs are delivered. 

As part of FE’s ongoing commitment to supporting our local community, we deliver free soccer programs designed to improve the health and well-being of young people from refugee, migrant, CALD and low socioeconomic backgrounds. FE soccer programs uses a capacity building approach to engage and mentor the participants in order to provide direct opportunities to up-skill and develop future pathways.