Awer Mabil

Professional soccer player and co-founder, Barefoot to Boots

SA State recipient Young Australian of the Year 2023

Socceroo Awer Mabil is co-founder of the not-for-profit organisation Barefoot to Boots, which aims for better health, education, policies and gender equality for refugees. 

His own unique way of celebrating a goal is a message to those struggling with their mental health: you are not alone and you can speak up. 

The winger knows something about trying times. Awer grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp after his family fled civil war in Sudan, before coming to Australia at 10. Only a year after reaching his dream to play for the Socceroos, his sister died in a car accident in 2019. 

Awer says that he now feels ‘unbreakable’. It is his experience of hard times, the memory of his sister and the knowledge that young people see him as a role model that drives him to perform. It’s what he does that Awer wants to be known for – not his background.