Young Syrian refugee scores game-winning goal for N.B. soccer team
A young Syrian refugee who is new to Canada is already making a big impact on New Brunswick’s Under-16 soccer team.
Mohammed Matar Haj Ale and his family spent three years in a camp for Syrian refugees before moving to Fredericton in January.
When a player on the soccer team couldn’t make the trip to Halifax for the Atlantic Championships, Mohammed got the call to play his first game for the team.
The Under-16 boys had to beat Newfoundland to advance to the finals. The game was scoreless until Mohammed scored the winning goal.
“It was a wonderful goal, an excellent execution from a player who wanted to prove he deserves to be on the team,” says his coach, George Itoafa.
Itoafa moved from Romania more than 20 years ago and knows how big of a role the game can play in the lives of people who are settling into a new life in Canada.
“Here in this team, on a small scale, he is integrating and he is doing such a wonderful job with our team,” says Itoafa. “It is amazing to see his ability to control the ball and it is something you don’t see very often.”
His teammates say, while Mohammed’s style of play is a bit different, he fits in well with the team and they are happy to have him.
“We’re friendly, right? So we involve him, we talk to him, he’s been a part of our team success since day one,” says teammate Ali Jabera. “Thank God for his goal because, yeah, he took us through.”
As for Mohammed, he says he is enjoying his new life in a new country.
“Canada is so good,” says the teen. “I like Canada.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelly Linehan