Hemanta Acharya,17, a Bhutanese school girl from Blacktown, New South Wales Australia ,finished her South Africa tour from 28th June to 16th July attending an indoor football festival named Football for Hope Festival 2010 held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The festival held during the last FIFA World Cup 2010 was organised by Street Football World which is comprised of many nations.
The tournament based on the fair play and without a referee but in presence of a mediator was a 12 minute indoor football played by 5 players on each side.
Australian team who had reached quarter final, altogether played eight matches with different countries out which they won 3, lost 3 and drawn 2 matches.
The Year 10 student of Mitchell High School in Blacktown got this opportunity to represent Australia when she was selected by Football United for an 8 membered squad for the indoor football tournament. She has been a member of Football United since 2009. The squad represented different multicultural societies as she represented Bhutanese cultural group in Australia.
In a telephonic conversation with BNS, she said that she was very happy and proud to represent the Bhutanese community of Australia in South Africa. She said, ‘I did not represent Bhutanese community in New South Wales only but I feel I represented whole of it from Australia’.
The squad headed towards South Africa under the guidance of Anne, the founder of Football United, Abu, the coach and Mahmoud, the youth leader via Dubai transit. The trip was sponsored by Fly Emirates, Adidas, Football Federation Australia and supported by the respective schools of the team members.
While in South Africa, staying at Queen’s High School in Johannesburg, she took the chance of watching the quarter final between Spain and Paraguay of FIFA World 2010 live on 3rd July at Ellis Park there. The team along with Hemanta also met Australian Commissioner there who wished them good luck before their matches.
She informed that it provided her an opportunity to take wonderful experiences including understanding the South African history visiting the museum, Nelson Mandela’s old residence in Johannesburg and Lion and Rhino National Park. She also visited the places called Pretoria and Alexendera, a developing suburb of Johannesburg which made her to remember her life in the refugee camp in Nepal. Apart from above, she attended a leadership training, football Coach training and cultural exhibition. Unfortunately, she couldn’t exhibit Bhutanese-Nepali culture as she was alone there and felt odd even though she had carried Guniyeu Cholo, a traditional Bhutanese-Nepali costume with her.
Congratulating and welcoming her back home, Damber Dhungel, Youth Secretary of Bhutanese Community in NSW and Case worker of ACL (IHSS) said, ‘Hemanta kept name and dignity of Bhutanese in Australia which is matter of pride for all of us’. In the conversation, she expressed her thankfulness to her school, Football United, Bhutanese community in NSW, their long term support and kind co-operation.