Ayom Majok Ayom’s journey to the A-League

Ayom Majok Ayom. Picture: One Culture Football.

He turned his back on the game that he thought had betrayed him before winning an A-League contract with Victoria’s Western United. 

Born in South Sudan, striker Ayom Majok Ayom is an orphan and is just 17.

His sister Akuot is his guardian after he lost his parents during the height of conflict in his homeland.

Ayom came to Australia with his other sister, Aluel, who was 19 at the time through humanitarian visas.

His remarkable rise to the professional ranks of Australian football arrived just six years after Socceroo Awer Mabil visited the same refugee camp where the ex-Adelaide United winger was based and raised in Kukuma, Kenya. 

It was the first of many visits to the Kakuma camp by Mabil where he was armed with Adelaide United shirts, boots and match balls to give to refugees.   

However, a little more than four years after landing in Adelaide, Ayom’s dream of a career which only came to light when he saw a soccer match for the first time on TV inside the Kakuma refugee camp, is now coming to fruition.

“My very first introduction to soccer was back in Kenya when I went to watch Real Madrid on TV and I saw Cristiano Ronaldo,’’ Ayom said.

“The next day I went and joined a soccer team but I was not good, I trained and never played games. 

 “I always just wanted to have fun.”

Going to school first at Adelaide Secondary School of English then shaped Ayom’s entire soccer destiny after arriving in SA on August 31, 2016.

SA’s first national soccer league champion side West Adelaide holding trials for budding school age refugees turned into a godsend for Ayom in 2017.

It was the first time Ayom had played officially organised football in his short life.

“Luckily they (West Adelaide) picked me for their under 15s and I made my way up from there,’’ he said.

After playing for West’s under 18s and reserves, former Adelaide United youth/NPL coach Paul Pezos decided to give Ayom a chance to progress his career. 

However, after making his Reds NPL debut last year, things turned sour.

Pezos wanted to keep Ayom, but he was cut from the Reds young squad before returning to West.

His passion for the game was waning after the Reds setback.

He decided to hang up his boots late last year but not before scoring nine goals for South Sudan in six matches in the African Nations Cup’s SA version.

“I quit, but Adrian Griffin who looks after me spoke to Cumberland and advised me that Cumberland will be a right club for me (this year),’’ Ayom said.

“Yeah I think I had a great season.” 

After rebooting his career first through Cumberland’s reserves, Bournemouth legend Neil Young and coach of the South Australian NPL side decided to give the teenager a break in the club’s first team and he never looked back.

Ayom scored nine goals and was credited with six assists in his 21 games for Cumberland where Western United had its eyes firmly fixed on the youngster. 

The Year 11 Underdale High School student is now hoping to continue his studies in Melbourne and to impress Western boss Mark Rudan after winning a scholarship contract.

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