‘Asylum sneakers’ raising funds for kids shoes

The fundraiser has harnessed the support of “Mr Football” Les Murray to kick start the campaign, which aims to raise $85,000 to buy boots for some 1300 kids across Australia.


So far just over $14,000 has been raised, enough to have the first big box of boots delivered to children on bridging visas in Adelaide.

The youngsters aged 5 to 18 could hardly contain their delight. Aline’s played football before but not with boots.

“[I use] normal sports shoes so having football boots is a big thing,” she said.

“I feel excited, speechless”.

Equally excited is the family of Andre Ntibesha. His two girls and a boy went to bed extra early, such was their excitement to receive their new shoes.

It’s a treat their dad says he wouldn’t be able to afford.

“Some of us can’t afford to buy them, and especially when we have many children we can’t have these hundreds [of dollars available] to buy those boots,” he said.

“And when it is an occasion when they get them for free – I think that is very, very important.”

The initiative is the idea of refugee support network, Welcome to Australia.

National director Brad Chilcott says given the negativity that surrounds refugees, even small acts of generosity such as sports equipment can prove a big difference in making asylum seekers feel welcome.

“We knew that people living on bridging visas are doing it really tough and can’t afford the little extras in life,” Mr Chilcott said.

“They’re struggling just to get food and pay the rent and so we wanted their kids to be able to enjoy life.”

The campaign has won the support of one of the world game’s legends, Les Murray.

It captured his heart for very personal reasons.

“I came to Australia as a refugee at the age of 11,” he said.

“I can relate to the challenges refugees have, particularly children, and how important football is to them.”

For some of the children these boots are the first shoes they’ve owned that aren’t second hand.