Sports star support for former refugees

Sports star support for former refugees

June 1, 2017

He’s one of the most photographed athletes in New Zealand but last month Sonny Bill Williams was the one wanting to take the photos as he visited Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre for the first time.

After visiting refugee camps in Lebanon last year, Sonny Bill was keen to see how New Zealand looks after refugees when they get to New Zealand. A particularly poignant moment for the All Black and Super Rugby star happened when a tearful youngster climbed onto his knee. After asking her name he was stunned to hear that she shared the same name as his youngest daughter, Aisha.

After several hours spent talking with residents and touring the centre, Sonny Bill told staff that he’s keen to be a regular visitor and show his support for former refugees rebuilding their lives in Aotearoa.

The next day saw some of the country’s top football stars arrive at the centre along with 350 footballs that they donated to children and teens.

NZ Football’s Community Development Manager, Jamie Milne said fostering with young refugees as they take to fields across the country is part of the resettlement process

“A football provides an opportunity to make new friends, have fun and learn those fundamental movement skills we know are important. Our code also provides an opportunity to help these families with that integration and becoming a Kiwi.”

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