Ready to play: Lunorphare Folly hopes his Ballarat African Association team will take home the Interkultura trophy. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

There’s something about soccer

October 9, 2019 BY

NINETEEN-year-old footballer, Lunorphare Folly has a life-long passion for the world game.

His refugee family found a home in Ballarat in 2008, originally from Togo in west Africa.

“We’d always played football in the villages, even mums. If anyone could kick a ball, they would kick it. It’s that simple,” he said.

Now playing for the Vikings, Folly found his community playing football in Australia, and was nurtured for years by Ballarat City Football Club.

“They financially set me up. I couldn’t pay to play, they did that for me,” he said.  “They got me to training and games, so the support they have is incredible and they have the most Africans in their club out of any other club in Ballarat at the moment.

“They’re supporting all multiculturally diverse people from any background and give them the best platform to play.”

In partnership with Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, Ballarat City is running their second Interkultura Football Festival, continuing their work to unite people from different backgrounds.

BRMC Executive Officer, Ann Foley said the groups want to give people opportunities to explore their talent and passions, regardless of challenges.

“We have been working together for a long time to support players to play and be the best soccer players they can me, including people from refugee backgrounds who otherwise would have had barriers,” she said

“We explored how we could connect with people from diverse backgrounds outside of Ballarat, provide an opportunity for people to come to Ballarat, play at a premier facility, meet each other across cultures and that’s how we came up with Interkultura.”

Initially the tournament was going to be eight sided, but receiving so much interest, organisers knew it could be bigger.

All day on Saturday 19 October, 12 teams will play at the Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, travelling from Nhill, metro Melbourne, Bendigo to Geelong and beyond.

The event also has the support of a famous face, recognisable for his work on SBS and with the #SaveHakeem campaign.

“Observing Craig Foster’s active involvement in football and human rights, we invited him to be a patron and we’re really pleased that he’s agreed to do that,” Ms Foley said.

“This festival is very much about welcoming and connecting emerging communities with a mutual interest. It’s a really nice chance to play the game everybody loves. Everybody can have a go.”

Representing the Ballarat African Association on the day, Folly is also their Youth Development Officer.

He knows Ballarat has a bright soccer future, with more interested players than he could accommodate, and he hopes his team will take home the Interkultura trophy.

“Over 28 boys wanted to play,” Folly laughed. “They’re all still playing, but not on the same team.

“There’s just something about the soccer ball, it brings people together.”

The public is welcome to watch the games, join in street soccer and enjoy the global street food available.

On Friday, 18 October from 6pm, a Triple D Eve of dinner, discourse and dance will launch the games, to be held at the Civic Hall and catered by Peter Ford.

Craig Foster is keynote speaker, leading a dialogue with five young people playing football in the tournament.

Anyone is welcome to buy tickets and fill up a table at trybooking.com/bepnj.