It was a story that garnered international headlines. A story that gripped people across the globe, bringing them together in a show of solidarity. In a way, it even made us realise just how precious life can be.
Hakeem Al-Araibi’s story of perseverance, determination and ultimately his freedom was perhaps the most endearing, yet controversial stories of the year thus far.
From the months he spent in the Thai detention centre to his eventual release thanks to the support of millions, it was a roller coaster of emotions that ended on a huge high.
But it was a great way to show one thing.
Soccer is a great way of bringing people together.
Whether it be soccer fans from different clubs, nations or continents. Or players, former players and coaching staff members from different clubs. When we all acknowledge something significant is or has occurred, we all come together in a show of strength for our great sport.
And Hakeem’s case was no different.
From Australian soccer icon Craig Foster to Champions League winning and Ivorian legend Didier Drogba, people came together in a bid to free Hakeem, who was being unjustly stripped of his rights and freedom.
— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) February 2, 2019
“It’s very simple – they just need to release him”
— The Project (@theprojecttv) January 24, 2019
It’s advocation like this that was able to shine a light on an issue that some parties wanted to keep in the dark. An issue they hoped they could solve (in their eyes) with little to no media fanfare.
How wrong they were.
Now playing back at his beloved Pascoe Vale FC in the Victorian State League top division, Hakeem is living a life that he knows was so close to being brought to a screeching halt.
He is now able to share his experiences with others as a Community and Human Rights Advocate with the FFV. Through his insight and knowledge, he will be able to help those who may be in similar situations to him (refugees living in Australia).
His story will also inspire others to help those in need. It goes to show that if everyone can show a little bit of support for someone or a group of people in need, those in power will take notice.
And for those who go above and beyond in their show of support, they get out what they put in. This is no truer than in the case of Craig Foster.
As soon as the story began, he devoted everything to ensuring Hakeem got released. Nothing else mattered more during that time. He took a stand and said that he and Australia would not rest until Hakeem was granted his release.
Now, Foster has received calls to be awarded for his bravery and hard work with the Australian of the Year award. Granted, he may not win, but he sure deserves to be recognised in some form.
What he did was nothing short of exemplary and again, it goes to show that soccer is a great way of bringing people together when someone or something is in need.
And that is the beauty of our wonderful sport.