Airdate: Football United; Passport To Hope

Two part documentary Football United; Passport To Hope, to air on the Bio Channel, follows a group of refugee kids who represented Australia at the Festival for Hope at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Filmed by North One, producers of Football Superstar, it documents 4 boys and 4 girls from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Central America brought together by one woman’s crusade to change their world one goal at a time.

Anne Bunde-Birouste founded the Football United program through the University of NSW, using the world game of soccer to help refugee children integrate into Australian society thereby offering them a passport to a brighter future.

The lottery of life has forced many of these children to become adults overnight, losing their innocence long before their childhood expired. Witnessing some of humanity’s worst crimes, this is a powerful and emotional story about kids who were born into, and have survived, war, drought, famine and bloodshed.

Football United; Passport To Hope tells their remarkable stories and how their lives changed after meeting Anne and becoming involved in Football United. Together with Anne’s drive, motivation and determination, the program has given eight of them – four boys and four girls – an extraordinary opportunity to represent Australia at the Festival for Hope at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Football United; Passport To Hope is introduced by writer, author, broadcaster and football fan George Negus, who has travelled the globe seeing the world at its best and worst and along the way has met many inspirational people like Anne Bunde-Birouste.

“I met Anne a few years ago and when she gets a bit between her teeth she is bloody near unstoppable,” George says. “We have gone from adversity to rather marvellous diversity [in Australia] and with the help of Anne and her program, so will these guys.”

Produced by North One Television Australia, Football United; Passport To Hope follows Anne and the kids as they prepare for and travel to South Africa for a rollercoaster ride of emotional experiences during and after the World Cup.

The eight kids come from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Central America. Each of them faces different challenges: for some it will be an adventure that is frowned upon by traditionalists from their culture; for others, there may be separation issues, linguistic challenges and cultural chasms that bring into sharp focus the complexity of their new lives.

Football United, an initiative of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW, was founded by Anne Bunde-Birouste in 2006 after she saw kids playing barefoot soccer in the Soloman Islands.

“Up to that point the word refugee did not mean anything to me and then I saw refugee camps and couldn’t believe the horror of people losing their families and not being ever able to return to what they call their homes,” she says.

“The program is not about football; it is about building our communities, it is about working together – equal opportunities, it is passion for something you can’t describe really in words you just have to see,” Anne says.

Football United: Passport To Hope premieres on Bio. channel on Thursday, September 23, at 9.30pm with part two airing on Thursday, September 30, at 9.30pm AEST.

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