When Wol Wol and his family escaped Sudan as refugees and arrived in Australia in 2005, the then three-year-old was too young to remember the emotional upheaval of starting a new life in a foreign country.
What he does remember is learning the English language by watching TV. Today, all that TV watching is paying off and the 16-year-old’s future is looking bright.
Last year, Wol took part in the True North Basketball program, a joint initiative of the North Melbourne Football Club, Victoria Police, Basketball Victoria and Rotary that combines sport with future employment preparation.
It was there that Wol was recommended for the Wyndham Leaders of the Future program, taking on the 96-kilometre Kokoda Track with police and other chosen teens.
He’s sports mad, starting out as a soccer player before moving on to basketball, playing with the Iramoo Basketball Club.
About to start year 11 at Wyndham Central College, Wol has his sights set on studying mechanical engineering once he graduates and is also keen to become a police officer. But the teen is well aware that he is one of the lucky ones. Asked about the recent spate of crimes being committed by African youths, Wol said he believed most of the offenders did not have strong role models in their lives.
“Most of the kids who actually do these things, it’s actually because they don’t really have a good figure in their life – like a father figure – because most of their fathers are back home,” he said.
“So they’re mostly living with just their mothers and their siblings … without a good father figure, they pretty much go off the tracks. I’m lucky to have both my parents here with me, and that’s something I’m thankful for.”