Fitzroy Lions: A Unifying Force
At 17, Abdulmalik Abdurahman wanted to create a community open to kids from all backgrounds—and Fitzroy Lions Club was born.
In our series, 'From the Grounds Up', we profile people all over the world who know that they can change their communities and the world through football and sport.
For Abdulmalik Abdurahman, that change meant creating affordable opportunities for young people in the inner city of Melbourne, Australia. So, he started the Fitzroy Lions Soccer Club, which allows kids to play football for free. With a shared goal to provide access to sport for girls and boys, Nike has partnered with the Lions since the start of their 2018 season to provide support through funding, training and game-day kit and boots.
Right now, play and competition looks different for the Fitzroy Lions, and for all of us. Yet, sport continues to be a source of inspiration, showing the world what's possible when we come together.
Filmed in December 2019 in Melbourne, Australia, watch the second episode of 'From the Grounds Up' above, and read more from the people of the Fitzroy Lions SC below.
"Fitzroy Lions Soccer Club is a unique football club in Australia", says Abdulmalik Abdurahman, the club's founder. "That's the way people should remember this club: a unique football club".
It's also the way people should remember Abdul himself. Born in Ethiopia, Abdul immigrated to Melbourne, Australia as child. Football, he says, was something that allowed him to both stay connected to his culture and find commonality with his new home. However, a few years later when fees became too much, he had to drop out of football.
"I could not pay registration, so I said to myself, 'I need to do something about it'", Abdul recalls.
And he did. In 2013, Abdul formed the Fitzroy Lions.
"I believe football should be free, and at Fitzroy Lions we're making sure that kids from the community have the opportunity to do sport and are able to play", Abdul says. "No registration, whatsoever. You don't pay anything to play".
Seven years later, the club does more than just provide an opportunity for kids to participate in football, it brings people together.
"I think this club does that perfectly, just getting people together, and then they learn from each other while they're playing football", Abdul says. "They're not just playing football together. They're trying to build more common ground".
"When I was playing for a different team, me and my friend were the only Muslim girls that were playing. And you could see people looking at you, you know? When I started playing football here, I felt more comfortable day by day, because the people around me that play football wear a hijab. I feel like we break a stereotype".
"Our coach tries to make us do a lot of exercises, and hard ones, 'cause he always says, 'It never gets easier. It just keeps getting harder, and that's what makes you a better player and a better athlete'. And when it gets hard and you feel like giving up, we push each other. Yeah. I'm grateful for my teammates".
This story was reported in December 2019.