How an Australian rural town came together to ensure the youngest ever Socceroo Garang Kuol could fulfill his football dream
- Garank Kuol made his debut for Australia against New Zealand last week
- The 18-year-old insists on joining the Socceroos World Cup team
- Kuol is the youngest player to be called up to the Socceroos since Harry Kewell
- The teenager was born in Egypt after his family fled Sudan
- The Kuols then moved to Australia and settled in northern Victoria
- Click here for all the latest 2022 World Cup news and updates
Garang Kuol’s mother revealed that the community spirit of a rural town in rural Victoria deserves credit for her son playing for Australia all his life.
The 18-year-old became the youngest player to be called up to the Socceroos since Harry Kewell, when he was included in the squad for two friendlies against New Zealand as Graham Arnold’s men refine their preparation for the World Cup.
And his mother, Antonita, believes none of this would have been possible without the support the family has received from the local community in Shepparton.
Garang Kuol is the youngest player to be called up to the Socceroos since Harry Kewell
“The whole community around us is supportive. If I can’t take them [her kids] [to a game] they will take them, and sometimes they bring them home,” she told the ABC.
‘You have the feeling that your children will be fine’ […] your child can be safely around them.’
Kuol, who made his senior debut for Central Coast Mariners last year, was born in Egypt, where his family had fled Sudan. From there, the Kuols eventually moved to Australia and settled in northern Victoria.
Antonita worked as a seasonal worker at SPC in Shepparton, but was unable to afford the cost of sending Garang and his brother Alou – who currently plays in Germany for the Stuttgart reserve squad – to foreign tournaments.
The teen made his senior debut for Central Coast Mariners last year
However, the local community stepped in and raised about half of the $8,000 needed to enable the Kuol brothers to represent regional Victoria in Japan and Spain.
‘That was quite astonishing. And I really don’t want to forget it. That time was a really, really big time to see someone can pay thousands of dollars to help you,” she said.
“We are very blessed to be in Shepparton.”
Kuol, who made his Socceroos debut last week, was also grateful for the support he and his brother received from their parents, who made a four-hour round trip to Melbourne every two weeks to train them.
Kuol made his debut for the Socceroos last week in a friendly against New Zealand
The 18-year-old hopes to earn a place in Graham Arnold’s World Cup squad
‘[My parents] do anything and everything for us,’ he said.
“They used to work all day every day, just to make sure there was food on our plates […] [and] drive two hours to Melbourne every other week.’
Kuol scored four goals in eight appearances in his first season in the A-League and his performances have sparked interest from a host of European clubs, including Newcastle, Celtic and Borussia Dortmund.
And according to air sportsthe Magpies are closer to finalizing a deal with the Mariners for the 18-year-old, who would join the Premier League club in January.