From lost in South Sudan to Australia’s fastest-rising young striker
“Moving here was like landing on the set of a TV show,” Bul Juach told the ABC. Now the South Sudanese refugee is becoming a star of his very own.
“We used to think ‘what is tomorrow going to be like?’, but now here in Australia, we don’t have to think like that because we just know we’re safe,” Juach continues.
He arrived in Canberra on a refugee visa at just 12-years-old, fleeing his homeland in South Sudan and the overcrowded Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya’s north.
“Everything was different — the living, the people, the language, and especially the weather — it was very cold,” he said.
“I used to catch a bus to school and I remember I got lost and I didn’t speak much English and it was the middle of winter.
Juach was partly raised – and learned his first football skills – in the Kakuma refugee camps that have also burgeoned the football skills of the likes of Awer Mabil.
“We were in the camps known as the Kakuma camps, and from there we kept moving places,” he said.
“We moved around a lot. Due to the movement, we had to learn many languages.
It was a terrifying journey just to make it that far for Juach, who was separated from his family in South Sudan as a bloody civil war raged across the now-divided region.
“The fighting was getting worse and we had to move,” he said. “We moved to the camps because we had nowhere else to go.
“I was by myself and someone just picked me up … they ended up looking for my relatives and they found them.”
Juach began his career in Canberra where he quickly emerged as one of Australia’s most prolific young strikers and now plies his trade for Wollongong Wolves in the NPL NSW.
Since play returned in the NSW state league, Juach has been one of the competition’s premier breakout stars, returning him to the guise of watchful A-League scouts.
“It’s been an amazing feeling getting back to playing the game I love,” he told the NPL NSW.
“We’ve played two matches now and the players and club are on a high.
“I have been happy with my form but even happier with my team’s form – it’s no surprise to me though as we’ve put in the hard yards for a couple of months now and this is showing through our matches.
“My main objective is to help the team win the league and continue to strive further as a footballer.”
Now under the mentorship of Luke Wilkshire, Juach’s goalscoring abilities are going from strength to strength.
Juach believes the Socceroos legend is the perfect role-model to take his game to the next level.
“As for Luke, I have a huge respect for him,” he says.
“He has played a massive role in my development as a footballer and continues to work on finding talented players in our region – you can see his hard work is paying off as our team is quite young thanks to him, he’s a great coach but an even better human being.”