Craig Foster made a successful comeback from retirement for Albion Park City’s inaugural FFA Cup clash against Coniston FC on Wednesday night.
The former Caltex Socceroo and Crystal Palace midfielder raised $3600 for the charities Mums 4 Refugees and SCARF (Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families) by completing the full 90 minutes at Kembla Grange’s Ian McLennan Park.
The two organisations were receiving $20 donations each for every minute the 49-year-old played, an impressive sum on top of gate proceeds on the night and a special signed Caltex Socceroos jersey which Foster himself will soon auction off.
Despite a tight first-half battle, the Illawarra Community League side were ultimately outdone 6-0, with all six goals arriving in the second-half.
Matt Tentcher, Boden Allport, Luke Picciolini and Travis Anderson all scored for Coniston.
“It wasn’t the fairytale I was hoping for, but it certainly was in terms of raising awareness here,” Foster remarked post-match.
“It was wonderful to have so many people turn up and come and enjoy a night of football.”
To find out more information about SCARF, click HERE.
Foster captained Albion Park and wore the number 57 to mark the year (1957) legendary SBS football commentator Les Murray arrived in Australia as a Hungarian refugee before eventually settling into the Illawarra region with his family.
Having become a leading ambassador for refugees, Foster played a vital role in the successful campaign to free Pascoe Vale player Hakeem Al-Araibi, a former refugee who was jailed in Thailand for two-and-a-half months in late 2018 on the request of the Bahraini government. Foster's Albion Park side was accompanied by young football-mad refugees when the two teams walked out onto the pitch prior to kick off.
“All they need is the opportunity to do something great in life,” Foster said.
“As ex-players we’ve been given that opportunity, we worked hard for it, but we were able to achieve something.
“All of these kids can do what Les did, and what I hope Hakeem does.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you’re seeking asylum, or if you live in Sydney like us, or were born here or not – we all should have the same opportunity in life and we all should be treated the same way.”