'I play for my family': Years of sacrifice behind Dukuly's World Cup journey

Every time Yaya Dukuly enters the football pitch, he remembers the sacrifices that have got him there. 

It will be no different when the Melbourne City teenager dons the green and gold of Australia in Sunday morning's FIFA U-17 World Cup opener against Ecuador.

Dukuly's journey to Brazil has been epitomised by sacrifice.

Born in Guinea to Liberian parents, Dukuly fled the Liberian war when he was one year old and arrived in Australia in 2004.

He grew up in Adelaide, where his parents worked tirelessly to support the family's new start down under.

"I can't remember the last day of work my dad missed. My mum used to work two jobs. I never used to see her," he told www.socceroos.com.au.

"She'd drop us at school in the morning and that was it, at one point she was working two jobs and going to uni - all for us.

"I don't play for myself, because I know where I've come from. I play for my family."

TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: Joeys at the FIFA U-17 World Cup

Yaya Dukuly
Yaya Dukuly


Dukuly is one of the brightest talents at Melbourne City, where he signed a Hyundai A-League scholarship contract in September.

But he is firmly a product blooded in the City of Churches.

Alongside emerging Adelaide United star Al Hassan Toure, who also fled the Liberian war and started a new life in Adelaide with his family, Dukuly's journey mirrors the shared story of hope for thousands of African Australian migrants across the country.

"It's so important in this day and age," he said.

"There's a lot of boys in Adelaide, especially from my community making it out now. There's Al Hassan Toure, we're all a small friend group, and a lot of us are making it out.

"With the community looking at us and seeing what we can do if you really want to become someone in life, it means a lot to people in our community. 

"We come from somewhere where we didn't have much. For someone from my community to make it this far means a lot."

The FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil is Dukuly's second trip away with the Joeys.

"Everyone has come from different teams, countries, backgrounds religions. When we all come together we're just a real solid unit."

WATCH: Skipper Ryan Teague on the Joeys' preparations in Brazil

Joeys group matches in Brazil

Ecuador v Australia
Date: Saturday, 26 October 2019
Venue: Estadio Olimpico, Goiania, Brazil
Kick-off: 8.00pm (local) – 10.00am (AEDT) Sunday, 27 October 2019
Broadcast: Live in Australia via SBS and theworldgame.sbs.com.au

Australia v Hungary
Date: Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Venue: Estadio Olimpico, Goiania, Brazil
Kick-off: 8.00pm (local) – 10.00am (AEDT) Wednesday, 30 October 2019
Broadcast: Live in Australia via SBS and theworldgame.sbs.com.au

Australia v Nigeria 
Date: Friday, 1 November 2019
Venue: Estadio Bezerrao, Brasilia (Gama), Brazil
Kick-off: 5.00pm (local) – 7.00am (AEDT) Saturday, 2 November 2019
Broadcast: Live in Australia via SBS and theworldgame.sbs.com.au

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